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The Focus-Abengoa Foundation and F.O. Licht launch the eighth edition of World Biofuels 2009

May 27, 2009

Seville, 27 May 2009. The Focus-Abengoa Foundation together with F.O. Licht, today opened the World Biofuels 2009 conference that is taking place for the eighth consecutive year at the Hospital de los Venerables, the Foundation's headquarters in Seville. The opening was attended by Josep Puxeu, Secretary of State for the Rural Environment and Water from the Spanish Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs; José B. Terceiro, Chairman of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation and Vice-chairman of Abengoa, and Javier Salgado, Chairman of Abengoa Bioenergy.

This edition of the conference is structured around three sessions: global bioethanol and biodiesel markets; biofuels and sustainability; and the economic and regulatory environment of the biofuels industry. The sessions will look at the opportunities and risks in the development of a global biofuels market.

After the opening session, Christopher Stanndlee, Chairman of the US Renewable Fuels Association (RFA); Marcos Sawaya, Chairman of the Sugar Cane Industry Union of Brazil (UNICA); Ramón de Miguel, Chairman of the European Bioethanol Fuel Association (eBIO); Michel Dwyer, Director of Biofuels at the US Foreign Agricultural Service, and Roderic Miralles, Chairman of APPA Biofuels Spain examined the current situation in the bioethanol and biodiesel markets in the USA, Brazil and the European Union.

In 2008 the three markets continued to grow at higher rates than in 2007 (by more than 30%) and have experienced significant events, such as the implementation of the US Energy Bill, approved at the end of 2007, and the passing of the Renewable Energy Directive by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, despite strong criticism and opposition to the development of biofuels by various social, political, economic and scientific organisations around the world.

Biofuels and sustainability

On the second day of the conference, representatives from various public administrations and organisations that are critical of the current development of biofuels will analyse the stimulus policies approved in the USA and the EU and, in particular, the sustainability criteria introduced in these new regulations. In 2009, both the USA and the EU will have to implement accounting and verification systems for greenhouse gases and certification, which allow regulators and the market to differentiate between useful and unacceptable biofuels, and to make headway in the fight against climate change.

The implementation of these new regulations must progressively resolve the "energy or food" debate, to prevent deforestation and the loss of biodiversity in specific regions of the planet, and to reduce CO2 emissions. These laws also require the accelerated development of second generation biofuels. The second day of the conference will look at the production of biofuels from enzymatic hydrolysis (bioethanol), the gasification of cellulose biomass (diesel, bioethanol) and algae oil (biodiesel).

The economic and regulatory environment of the biofuels industry

The third day of World Biofuels 2009 will look at the repercussions of the recent approval of the review of the European Fuel Quality Directive on the biofuels industry. The increase in the obligatory use of biofuels and the increase in the percentages of bioethanol and biodiesel that can be used in mixtures with fossil fuels to operate motor engines will undoubtedly affect vehicle manufacturers and fuel producers in the future, whose representatives will be present at the session.

To conclude this eighth edition, the conference will look at the current economic crisis which has been accompanied by an unexpected fall in the price of oil and biofuels and the strong contraction in credit. These events are having a brutal effect on the biofuels industry and companies with financial problems are stopping or cutting back their business in order to concentrate on daily operations; investment to implement or expand production capacity, which may have already begun, is also being halted, including in plants to develop second generation biofuels.

About Abengoa Bioenergy

The new regulation in Spain and the EU should support the growth of Abengoa Bioenergy's business project. The new European directives on renewable energies and fuel quality, and the ministerial order to promote biofuels in Spain involve:

  • Obligatory consumption by transport of a minimum of 10% of renewable energies by 2020 in every EU country, including biofuels. Each country must set intermediate rising targets, starting from 5.75% in 2010, for the 2011-2020 period.
  • Establishment of new petrol and diesel specifications in the European Union that will contain up to 10% bioethanol (by volume) and 7% biodiesel (by volume) respectively, exceeding the currently authorised European Union target of 5% for each one.
  • Obligatory minimum, identical and independent targets in Spain for bioethanol and biodiesel consumption of 2.5% and 3.9% for 2009 and 2010, respectively.
  • Sustainability criteria for biofuels, which may not be produced from raw materials obtained from land that, from 2008 onwards, has a high level of biodiversity (forests and other wooded land without significant human intervention, protected natural areas, species protection zones or ecosystems); or from land that has high carbon reserves (wetlands and continuously forested areas) or from peat bogs.
  • Implementation of a certification system in 2010 that ensures that biofuels sold in the EU comply with the aforementioned sustainability criteria, including minimum savings of 35% on greenhouse gas emissions during their lifecycle compared to average emissions from petrol and diesel.

These legislative changes provide a long term position for growth in the industry based on the current biofuels obtained from cereal conversion technologies, sugar cane and oil seeds, and based on the new generation of biofuels produced from cellulose biomass (non-food material), whose development will be supported with special incentives. In short, the legislative changes approved offer the industry the platform and the market perspective that it has long been searching for.

In this context, first generation biofuels will become the bridge to developing second generation biofuels in the most efficient and fastest way possible. Current production plants can integrate pilot plants first followed by second generation biofuel production systems, in order to make use of location, services and logistics synergies and to share economic and human resources.

Abengoa Bioenergy hopes to shortly open a five million litre bioethanol pilot production plant using cereal straw, which will be integrated into our Babilafuente (Salamanca) plant, which currently produces bioethanol from cereal grain. Both raw materials and their conversion technologies must coexist for a certain period of time.

The eighth World Biofuels Conference forms part of the activities of the Focus-Abengoa Forum on Energy and Climate Change that has been initiated by Abengoa through the Focus-Abengoa Foundation with the principal objective of acting as a valid instrument for reflection and action at the highest level to promote understanding and the formation of public opinion in this area. This forum focuses on those fields in which Abengoa can make relevant contributions in the different areas of international, industrial and technological relations or in any other sphere, thanks to its business activities, in relation to the triple objective of economic, social and environmental development that define sustainable development.

Abengoa Bioenergy is one of the leading producers of bioethanol in the world with a combined installed capacity to produce more than 1.500 billion litres in the United States, Europe and Brazil. It currently operates ten bioethanol, sugar and electricity production plants. Abengoa Bioenergy is also one of the leading companies in the world for developing bioethanol production technologies using ligno-cellulose biomass.

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