Research and innovation perspective of the mid-and long-term potential for advanced biofuels in Europe



Research and Innovation (R&I) plays a central role in developing advanced biofuels technologies to help achieve the EU’s climate and energy targets. This study examines the R&I potential for feedstock production, advanced biofuels production, and use of advanced biofuels. The study quantifies R&I potential under future scenarios where EU targets are met. Improving feedstock supply and reducing conversion costs through research and innovation resulting in an increase of feedstock availability by 40-50 %, will contribute to the development of advanced biofuels. With successful R&;I and attainment of the 2050 EU targets, advanced biofuels could achieve (i) close to a 50 % share of the overall transport sector energy mix, (ii) achieving 330 Mt of net emission savings, in case they replace fossil fuels, or 65 % of the required emission savings needed, compared to 1990 levels, in order to meet the target of the transport sectors emissions by 60 %1, (iii) a market volume of 1.6 % of EU’s GDP, and (iv) significantly improve energy security. This would result in a net increase of 108 000 jobs, even taking into account the 11 000 jobs reduction in fossil fuel sectors and the reduced employment in other sectors, without impacting negatively EU’s GDP. This is a particularly noteworthy positive impact, considering that it mainly comes from the substitution of currently existing energy demands. In the extreme case of a transition to an energy system relying heavily on advanced biofuels, achieving EU targets would put considerable pressure on feedstock availability, driving up feedstock prices. Yet, in a system characterized by a balanced energy mix with several renewable options and an important role for advanced biofuels, R&I plays a paramount role in both (i) safeguarding the amount of affordable sustainable biomass and (ii) improving the efficiency of the whole biomass to biofuel process chain, needed for the transition to a bioenergy system. The transition could take more than 15-20 years and require substantial efforts and extensive coordination between stakeholders.


Corporate author(s): Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (European Commission)
Personal author(s): Eurocare; EFI; E3MLab; WIP Renewable Energies; ECORYS; IUNG