US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President of the EU Council, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has invited Novozymes CEO Steen Riisgaard and other EU and US industry leaders to discuss new energy technology.

The EU-US Energy Technology CEO Forum took place at the US Department of State in Washington DC on Monday. The forum aimed at stimulating a discussion among governments and the private sector from both sides of the Atlantic to accelerate the innovation and adoption of new energy technology.

Major trends, big names

This meeting comes during an extraordinary two-month period in which Novozymes has met with the current US President and a former US Vice President, as well as now the US Secretary of State and the German Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Novozymes CEO Steen Riisgaard, who was asked to co-chair Monday’s meeting, says:

“Coming from a company that builds on innovation and which has a high annual R&D spending – 13% percent of the turnover – I sincerely share the wish to find ways to accelerate the innovation and adoption of new energy technologies. I think we would find a lot of synergies and benefits if we could come to an agreement on closer cooperation between Europe and the USA on the different research programmes.”

Joint research

During the forum, the participants discussed joint initiatives aiming at bringing European and American research and technology programmes closer together for the development of renewable energies, increased energy efficiency, biofuels, clean coal, fuel-cell and hydrogen technologies. The idea is to radically reduce the time needed to research and develop new processes and technologies and to jointly assume global technological leadership in this field.

“Biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel are already on the market produced by first generation technology, and show high growth rates in particular in the USA,” states Steen. “For many good reasons there seems to be consensus across the Atlantic that research projects to speed up the development of second generation biofuel technologies should be given very high priority. In the case of second generation bioethanol, advanced enzyme systems that can break down cellulosic material are key for the success of the technology.”

Thanks to US governmental initiatives already back in 2001, Novozymes was awarded a contract from the US National Renewable Energy lab (NREL) to reduce the cost of enzymes for cellulosic ethanol. Over five years, Novozymes has succeeded in reducing costs significantly, resulting in a situation where enzyme costs no longer dominate the picture.

Input to EU-US Summit in April

Energy Security and Climate Protection are at the top of both EU and US political agendas. US President Bush has called for greater energy independence and efforts in the fields of biofuels, clean coal and hybrid cars, all of which ties in with European climate protection and energy policy.

The CEO Forum also served as a contribution to the EU-US summit on 30 April 2007.