|BORDEAUX - French Farm Minister Dominique Bussereau said on Wednesday the government's new biofuel output targets would propel France to be Europe's leading producer by 2010.|
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Tuesday called for fuels to contain 5.75 percent of biofuel by 2008, a figure rising to 7 percent by 2010 and 10 percent by 2015 as part of a programme to boost biofuel usage. The European Commission had originally urged 5.75 percent incorporation in fuels by 2010.
"It's perhaps still very low, but by then (2010) we will be Europe's top volume producer," Bussereau told a press conference after a meeting of the maize growers' group AGPM.
"We hope all of Europe follows us with similar plans."
France currently produces some 200,000 tonnes of ethanol, made from sugar beet or cereals, and 500,000 tonnes of biodiesel, usually produced from rapeseed.
The EU's biggest producer Germany aims to have around two million tonnes of annual production capacity by 2006.
Production in France is steadily rising and tenders have already been launched for extra capacity in the next few years.
Villepin also said France would launch another tender by the end of this year for 1.8 million tonnes of new biofuel capacity.
Bussereau acknowledged that the French targets were ambitious and would involve around three million hectares of cultivated land by 2010 and eight new biofuel factories, each representing an investment of some 100 million euros.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE