- A project linking solar power from the Sahara to energy users in Europe and North Africa could create 240,000 German jobs and generate 2 trillion euros ($2,822 billion) worth of power by 2050, a study published on Thursday found.

The first biofuels produced using new generations of biomass raw materials could be available in commercial volumes from 2010 at the earliest, German junior Environment Michael Mueller said on Monday.

But the exact time scale was still unclear, Mueller said at the European Biomass conference in Hamburg.

Germany's lower house of parliament on Thursday gave final approval to government proposals to cut the target amount of biofuels to be blended into fossil fuels this year.

The lower house approved a plan to cut the 2009 blending target to 5.25 percent biofuel content in fossil fuel in 2009 from the 6.25 percent originally intended.

The possibility of component replacement and extending the lifetimes of existing plants are very attractive to utilities, especially given lingering public opposition to constructing new nuclear plants, while some governments see them as a way of limiting carbon emissions and power price rises.

Pakistan has become a signatory of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) along with other 87 countries of the world. The Ambassador of Pakistan to Germany Shahid Kamal signed the statute of the International Renewable Energy Agency on behalf of the Government of Pakistan at a special signing ceremony held at German Foreign Office.

The launch of a UK project to extract geothermal energy from hot dry rocks comes soon after two high-profile setbacks elsewhere in the world.

Renewable stocks are likely to give up gains again after having recovered since March, but financially strong companies such as SMA Solar and SolarWorld will be hit less harder than others, according to fund firm Swisscanto.

German solar companies that have not yet set up US and Chinese production plants are likely to lose out on significant subsidies and will struggle to bring down their production costs to the levels of their Asian peers.

The German solar industry expects a recovery in the second half of this year after a string of earnings showed on Thursday the sector has written off the first three months as the low point of 2009.

Power generation from renewable sources such as wind turbines, solar cells and biomass plays a small but important part in satisfying total electricity demand around the world, and is growing at an exponential rate thanks to generous public subsidies and government support.

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