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High-level workshop on advanced biofuels in Belgrade

The Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union organised, in cooperation with the CEI, a high-level Workshop on Advanced Biofuels on 28 November in Belgrade.

Ambassador of Italy, Giuseppe Manzo, and Milorad Milovančević, Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering opened the event at the University of Belgrade.

A group of selected experts, stake-holders, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and journalists discussed the existing opportunities for advanced biofuels in Serbia, not only from a research and development point of view, but also taking into account various aspects related to finance, job creation, environmental protection, also through a substantial contribution for reducing CO₂ emissions. Ambassador Manzo and Dragan Satarić, Director of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development, event co-sponsored, emphasised that Serbia had great potential for a consistent production of advanced biofuels from agricultural waste and that Italy had developed technologies in this field, commonly identified as a frontier at the state-of–the-art. In this respect, the participants had the chance to see a video on the plant, which has been operative for over a year in Crescentino (near Turin), today the largest in Europe for the production of second-generation bioethanol.

Luisa Marelli from the Joint Research Center, Directorate General, an integral part of the European Commission, emphasised the role and related challenges of advanced biofuels in the framework of the emerging biobased economy in Europe, which is attracting several billion EUR of investments for the next seven years.

Particularly significant were the contributions from the representatives of the International Financial Institutions: Mirjana Vujicic of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Andreas Beikos of the European Investment Bank (EIB). They both highlighted that their respective institutions were now ready to finance projects for advanced-biofuel production, since they now considered the relevant technologies as bankable.

Giorgio Rosso Cicogna, Special Advisor to CEI Secretary General, summarised the main activities carried out by the Central European Initiative, a very active player in this field, and underlined the great interest in advanced biofuels demonstrated by the CEI Ministers for Science and Technology and by the CEI Ministers for Agriculture and Rural Development in their respective meetings in Trieste (September 2014) and in Vienna (October 2014).
He also mentioned that a feasibility study for second generation bioethanol in Serbia could receive a grant from the CEI Fund at the EBRD. He added that "besides other considerations, the amount of investment in Research and Development by all the Oil Majors indicates that advanced biofuels are likely to be the next Big Thing."

Peter Canciani also from the CEI reported on the fruitful participation of the Organisation in three EU funded projects, i.e. S2BIOM, Danube-INCO.NET and EBTP-SABS
Prof. Vittorio Venturi, Senior Scientist at the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in Trieste described the opportunities the scientific communities of CEI Member Countries would have by participating in the CEI-PRAISE Framework Programme, which covers the scientific/technology area as well.

In this context, Prof. Dragoslava Stojiljkovic from the University of Belgrade emphasised the great potential of the Serbian scientific community to further develop advanced biofuels and the related added value by-products from biorefinery. This prospect was confirmed by Stanka Leskovac from NIS (the National Oil Company), who mentioned the expectations related to the market conditions in Serbia, echoed by Goran Blagojevic, who synthesised the orientations of some of the major agro industrial groups of the country.

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