“Bioenergy towards 2030: needs and opportunities for research and innovation to meet the targets for the next decade”

ETIP Bioenergy workshop @EUBCE2018
Wednesday 16 May, 13:30 - 17:00 - Bella Center Copenhagen, Denmark

Needs and opportunities for research and innovation to meet the targets for the next decade

In the framework of the 26th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition EUBCE 2018 held in Copenhagen (DK), ETIP Bioenergy Platform promoted the workshop “Bioenergy towards 2030 - Needs and opportunities for research and innovation to meet the targets for the next decade” on the 16th May, 2018.

The event provided a high-level overview on current policy, market trends and expectations for the future of the bioenergy sector in European Union. Speakers presented their analysis on several aspects of renewable fuels and bioenergy, from the policy framework to research funding, from the technologies currently available to the final products. Interventions contributed to shape the future outlook of bioenergy sector in relation to several EU initiatives, such as the implementation of the EU Energy Union, the SET-Plan Action 8 – Renewable fuels and bioenergy as well as the scenario for the adoption of Horizon Europe, the new framework programme for research and innovation 2021 – 2027. Participants got a clear picture on how all the aspects are already interacting together and what can be achieved at EU technology and market level, considering the high competition worldwide.

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Patrik Klintbom, Chair of ETIP Bioenergy Platform, chaired the first session. He introduced the work done by ETIP Bioenergy Platform with the technical Working Groups and dedicated activities tailored to EU stakeholders. He underlined the need to catch all the possibilities offered by the EU framework in terms of policy and market. “We need to set a higher pace in the implementation of bioenergy. We can do so much with bioenergy. There is so much out there” he said.

Experts from relevant EU-level institutions, academies, companies and associations dealing with the bioenergy sector intervened. Here are highlights and take-home messages from their presentations:

Maria Georgiadou (European Commission DG RTD) presented the opportunities and needs for research, development and innovation offered by the European Union. Policy pillars for bioenergy are: Energy Union, SET-Plan and Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. For all, bioenergy is a relevant asset to put Europe at the forefront of innovation in sustainable energy production. “The focus is to produce energy, so biorefineries that produce bioenergy are welcome!” she added as a closure message.

Birger Kerckow (FNR - Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V.) provided the context in which the update of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) of Bioenergy is under preparation. The current version of the SRIA (2016 ed.) contains still valid insights (i.e. on considered value chains) which can partially feed the updated SRIA expected in 2018. Decision should be taken on the SRIA scope and the opportunity to broaden it, including large-scale/commercial systems, while considering what has been done by other EU platforms (i.e. the Heating and Cooling Platform) and avoiding the doubling of efforts among EU platforms.

Relevant inputs for advanced biofuels potentials were provided by Thomas Schleker (European Commission DG RTD) presenting the DG RTD study “Research and Innovation perspective of the mid- and long-term potentials for advanced biofuels in Europe” (available here). Beyond scientific evidences, encouraging results are the following:

  • R&I measures can significantly increase the availability of biomass by 2050 – by up to 120% as compared to the reference to the reference scenario in 2020;
  • R&I measures are estimated to lead to more biomass being available from agricultural and forestry sectors at lower costs;
  • Advanced biofuels can help achieve the EU climate and energy goals;
  • Through targeted R&I policies for feedstock utilization and conversion technologies, advanced biofuels will be able to meet around 50% of the EU transport sector’s energy demand;
  • Even if both advanced biofuels and electrification are necessary to cover overall demand in passenger transport, advanced biofuels can be considered as the main alternative for aviation, maritime, and heavy-duty road transport.

Wolter Elbersen (Wageningen UR), spoke about the relevance for bio-commodities to link the available biomass potential to the European feedstock and fuel needs in the coming decades:

  • Examples from nutrients recovered from residues to the need of establishing contacts with farmers are available, with the goal of integrating them in a functioning system as part of an overall sustainability strategy for the sector;
  • Lignocellulosic biomass for Non-Food applications is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades for the production of bio-based products, biofuels and bioenergy;
  • A solution for all the needs around biomass and its multiple use is to have “bio-commodieties” and a related international trade market (where characteristics such as fungibility, standard, sustainability etc. are respected);
  • Focus should be on full biomass-to-products value chains tackling both technical and non-technical bottle-necks and involving full chain stakeholders.

Jeffrey Skeer (IRENA International Renewable Energy Agency) gave insights on biofuel innovation from IRENA’s patent database, which represents a relevant initiative at world level and could be adopted also in the EU framework. He showed that:

  • Data regarding patents on cellulosic bioethanol products are reporting a growing trend;
  • In 2015 liquid biofuels and biomethane accounted for just 4% of total renewable energy supplied. By 2050, the share of biofuels could nearly triple to 11%;
  • More than half a million patents in renewable energy, 15% are for bioenergy and 9% specifically for biofuels;
  • The bulk of patents have been filed for grain bioethanol, cellulosic bio-ethanol, bio-diesel, and bio-pyrolysis.

Juan Carrasco (EERA European Energy Research Alliance) presented the Joint Research and Development Program (Bioenergy JP), gathering 36 participants in 18 EU countries. This initiative features:

  • The alignment of research activities with industrial priorities;
  • The assessment of research priorities to accelerate bioenergy implementation in Europe, in particular the SET-plan objectives;
  • The main challenges and priorities are: 1. the increase of biomass availability (including using brush biomass as a new resource), 2. the minimization of the net carbon used for the production of agricultural biomass and 3. the impact evaluation of non-food crops biomass production in representative farms context;
  • Other priorities refer to increase efficiency, reliability and reduce the costs and carbon use of biomass conversion technologies.

Kees Kwant (BESTF/ERA-Net Bioenergy) explored the ERA-NET Calls (projects and networks) in the bioenergy and alternative fuels sector, filling the gap between National Programs and EU Programs:

  • ERA-NET Bioenergy is a network of National Ministries and Funding Organisations on the sector, self-funded since January 2011. It supports projects in the lower TRLs (3-5, between RTD and development phase);
  • BESTF3 (Bioenergy Sustaining the Future) follows on from two previous BESTF ERA-NET Plus initiatives launched in 2013. It gathers a number of national and transnational organizations aiming to kick-start large scale investment in close-to-market implementation of bioenergy (at TRL 6-8, between system prototype demonstration and generation of income);
  • Results from such initiatives are important in terms of creation of valuable demonstrations pathways, but for having good projects there is a need to leverage on national research through EU collaboration. There is also a need for greater participation of SMEs; it could be not an easy scheme for funding agencies.

Finally, Rainer Janssen (WIP Renewable Energies and president of the Association of European Renewable Energy Research Agencies) transmitted views coming from EU research centres and universities working in renewable energy sector on next Framework Programme for research and innovation (FP9/Horizon Europe). He emphasized the important role of the official platforms such as ETIP Bioenergy and other platforms in next Horizon Europe since their representative composition equips them well to suggest R&D priorities to EU institutions and citizens.

A panel debate with a discussion open to the audience was moderated by Antti Arasto, Vice Chair of ETIP Bioenergy Platform, about the topic: what outlook and which priorities for bioenergy in the European research and innovation agenda towards 2030?

The main take-home lesson of this workshop is that Research and Innovation support and political framework need to go hand in hand for getting biofuels and advanced fuels (products and technologies) an established reality in the market. All technologies with a potential confirmed by evidence (e.g. decentral biomass conversion units at a scale compatible with regional biomass supply, on integration with fossil refineries, just for naming a few) has to be fully exploited, as a strategic asset of the European Union in the sector. 

In total 65 people took part to the workshop and communication coverage was guaranteed, thanks to Twitter interactions, pictures and interviews to speakers.

Agenda  (PDF Icon pdf version here)

Chairpersons: Patrick Klintbom, Chair ETIP Bioenergy Platform, Antti Arasto, Vice Chair Steering Committee ETIP Bioenergy

13:30 – Welcome and registration

13:45 – PDF Icon Introduction – Patrik Klintbom, Chair Steering Committee ETIP Bioenergy

14:00 – PDF Icon The Energy Union, the SET-Plan and Framework Programmes : opportunities and needs for research, development and innovation in bioenergy – Maria Georgiadou, European Commission, DG RTD.

14:20 – PDF Icon An updated Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda for bioenergy – Birger Kerckow, FNR, Germany

14:35 – PDF Icon Inputs for advanced biofuels potential from the DG RTD study “Research and Innovation Perspective of the Mid- and Long-term Potential for Advanced Biofuels in Europe” – Thomas Schleker, European Commission DG RTD.

14:55 – PDF Icon The need for biocommodities to link the available biomass potential to the European feedstock and fuel needs in the coming decades – Wolter Elbersen, Wageningen University of Research.

15:10 – PDF Icon Insights on biofuel innovation from IRENA’s patent database – Jeffrey Skeer, IRENA

15:25 – PDF Icon EERA Bioenergy Joint Research and Development Programmes, status and vision towards 2030 – Juan Carrasco, EERA Bioenergy Joint Programme Coordinator

15:40 – PDF Icon BESTF/ERA-Net Bioenergy Joint Research and Development Projects- status and vision towards 2030 – Kees Kwant, ERA-Net Bioenergy

15.55 – PDF Icon Towards FP9: the views from research centres and universities in renewable energy, Rainer Janssen EUREC

16:10 – Question time

16:20 – Panel debate and open discussion – What outlook and which priorities for bioenergy in the European research and innovation agenda towards 2030?
Moderator: Antti Arasto (VTT/ETIP Bioenergy)
Panellists:, Rainer Janssen, (EUREC), Maria Georgiadou (DG RTD),
Kees Kwant (BESTF/ERA-Net Bioenergy),
Wolter Elbersen (Wageningen UR),
others TBC.

17.00 Concluding remarks