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BP Funds $500 Million in Biofuels Research at Berkeley

British Petroleum announced the creation of the Energy Biosciences Institute, which will lead the way in discovering next-generation clean energy.

British Petroleum announced it has selected the University of California Berkeley and its partners -- the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory -- to join in a $500 million research program that will explore how bioscience can be used to increase energy production and reduce the impact of energy consumption on the environment.

The Energy Biosciences Institute will perform ground-breaking research aimed at the production of new and cleaner energy, initially focusing on renewable biofuels for road transport. The EBI will also pursue bioscience-based research in three other key areas; the conversion of heavy hydrocarbons to clean fuels, improved recovery from existing oil and gas reservoirs, and carbon sequestration.

"The proposal from UC Berkeley and its partners was selected in large part because these institutions have excellent track records of delivering 'Big Science' -- large and complex developments predicated on both scientific breakthroughs and engineering applications that can be deployed in the real world," said BP Group Chief Executive John Browne.

Browne added that "This program will further both basic and applied biological research relevant to energy. In short, it will create the discipline of Energy Biosciences. The Institute will be unique in both its scale and its partnership between BP, academia and others in the private sector."

Dedicated facilities on the campuses of UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois will house EBI research laboratories and staff. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will carry out supporting research. Up to 50 BP staff located on the two campuses will work in partnership with university faculty and researchers. BP and its partners will share governance of the EBI and guidance of its research programs.

"We are delighted to welcome UC Berkeley, the University of Illinois and the Lawrence Berkeley Lab to this effort," said Bob Malone, chairman and president of BP America Inc. "We are joining with some of the world's best science and engineering talent to meet the world's demand for low carbon energy. As part of that effort we will be working to improve and expand the production of clean, renewable energy through the integrated development of better crops, better processing technologies, and new biofuels."

U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said in praising the announcement, "As we continue to promote alternative energy as a means to strengthen our nation's energy security, it is important that private industry join in support of research to advance President Bush's goal of making clean energy sources, like bioenergy and biofuels, commercially available."

"I can't tell you how excited I am that BP has chosen UC Berkeley and California for its new $500 Million Energy Biosciences Institute," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I’m proud that the private sector has recognized California’s leadership and commitment to clean energy. This is a perfect complement to our new low-carbon fuel standard which will cut carbon emissions 10 percent from our cars by the year 2020, and with research facilities like the Energy Biosciences Institute, California will continue to be a leader in the Cleantech industry."

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