Austria wants to increase its use of bioenergy and become one of Europe's leaders in bioenergy technologies, environment minister Martin Bartenstein said last week. A new government initiative, to begin in 1999, seeks to develop cooperation and communication between bioenergy companies, technology firms and research institutes. The so-called "Bioenergy-Cluster" programme is based on the results of a study done by an independent research institute, which was commissioned jointly by the federal ministries of environment, finance, science and agriculture. The study concludes that bioenergy use in Austria could double within 10 years, but that more coordination between the mainly small businesses involved in the sector would be vital to achieve this. Austria already obtains over 10% of its total energy needs from bioenergy, more than half of this from traditional wood-burning stoves, which it also exports to Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Mr Bartenstein said that in future the role of bioenergy for Austria could be similar to that of wind power in Denmark. Denmark hopes to get 10% of national electricity needs from wind energy by 2005, and is amongst the leading global producers and exporters of wind turbines. "We want the leading position [in bioenergy] in Europe," an Austrian environment ministry official told ENDS Daily.
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