Representatives of the German federal states of Brandenburg and Lower Saxony have signed an agreement with Volkswagen AG on scientific and technical cooperation concerning the development and introduction of technologies for synthetic biomass fuel production.

This agreement is based on the voluntary commitment of the Federal Republic of Germany to achieve a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2005, compared to 1990. In addition, the European Union has called upon its member states to cover 12% of their overall energy consumption by means of renewable energy sources by the year 2010, but with the use of wind power, hydro-electric power and solar energy alone this target cannot be met in a cost-effective way.

The use of biomass is considered an alternative for the production of energy from regenerative raw materials. Research by the Volkswagen Group and its partners is currently aimed at promoting the economically viable production of this fuel of the future and the necessary technologies. After the feasibility of the first production technologies was proven, the focus has now shifted to biomass logistics. This includes the environmental situation of the relevant areas to be used, the selection of plants and their cultivation sequence as well as harvest, pre-processing steps and transport of the raw product.

For the two federal states , the agreement is of great significance from a scientific and economic point of view, since it is expected to create added value and enhance job security, particularly in the agricultural sector.

In Germany, the new biomass-based Sunfuel could satisfy about 50% of the country’s passenger-car diesel consumption solely by using EU-subsidised farmland temporarily not being cultivated (1.1 million hectares) and arable land made available due to the reduction of excess production.

Within the framework of its Sunfuel strategy, Volkswagen is encouraging the transition from the fossil energy sources of today to renewable energies in the mobility industry and elsewhere. Synthetic, biomass-based fuels will play a vital part in this development.

By the end of this year the CUTEC Institute in Clausthal, the Competence Centre for Renewable Raw Materials in Werlte in conjunction with the Chamber of Agriculture of Lower Saxony, the State Office for Consumer Protection and Agriculture in Frankfurt/Oder, the Zukunfts Agentur Brandenburg GmbH (ZAB) and Volkswagen will have compiled a specialist work programme. This will put the states of Brandenburg and Lower Saxony as well as Volkswagen a further step ahead as an industrial location with regard to sustainable future technologies in Germany.