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EUBCE 2023 marks the return to real-world interaction

EUBCE 2023 marks the return to real-world interaction
Kadri Simson, European Commissioner for Energy, addressing delegates at EUBCE 2023 via link (photo courtesy EUBCE).

After three years of hosting the annual European Biomass Conference and Exhibition (EUBCE) online, EUBCE 2023 finally marked the return of onsite real-world interaction. Over 1 500 delegates from 79 countries convened in Bologna, Italy earlier this week to discuss the use of biomass in a circular and sustainable economy.

After three consecutive years of a video-streamed conference, the EUBCE opened again as a real-world conference, showing clearly how important real face-to-face meetings are for establishing contacts, networking for research groups, and exchanging ideas and results.

We are very pleased with this year’s participation, which was a great success as we welcomed more than 1 500 participants from 79 countries. They participated in 700 plenary, oral and visual presentations in the scientific and industry sessions. They also followed 14 special events parallel to the scientific program, which offered deep insights into specific topics, like the role of biomass for energy-intensive industries or the Italian forest-wood-energy chain, commented ETA-Florence Renewable Energies, the organizer of the event.

The chairwoman of the conference, Isabella de Bari of the Italian Energy Agency ENEA, introduced the position of the EUBCE in exhibiting how “biobased and circular economy strategies can complement decarbonization measures to achieve the climate goal”.

The choice of Bologna for this conference is emblematic, as Bologna and the Emilia Romagna Region were hit by floods due to climate change. We really need to hurry up, sustainable bioenergy is required to triple in the next years in order to achieve NetZero (emissions), commented Paolo Frankl of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

During the opening session, Kadri Simson, the European Commissioner for Energy, stated the European vision of “building an energy system with home-grown renewable energies will be our top priority. We’ll be counting on bioenergy to help us get there”.

Amongst other details, Commissioner Simson also mentioned the “ambitious” EU target to produce 35 billion cubic meters (bcm) of biomethane (aka renewable natural gas – RNG) by 2030.

As the program of the conference is coordinated by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), located in Ispra (VA) in Lombardy, Deputy Director General Salla Saastamoinen emphasized, that “to shape effective policies and to ensure that climate neutrality goes hand in hand with environmental and social sustainability, solid scientific evidence and international cooperation are key”.

A key feature of EUBCE is the bioenergy-related research poster exhibition with the latest R&D that provides a networking focal point during the breaks and intermissions (photo courtesy EUBCE).

The view from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) was brought by James Spaeth, who reported that “the US is in the early stages of an unprecedented investment in clean technologies aimed at creating a Net Zero future by 2050.”

He also expressed that “this year’s EUBCE in Bologna is a great forum for comparing the US’s plans with those in Europe and around the globe”.

From India, Sangita Kasture, Ministry of Science & Technology, presented the main policies and funding opportunities in India for advanced biofuels, renewable energy targets, biofuels, green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), biomanufacturing, and biotechnology, confirming the role of biomass in the largest-population country of the world.

There were numerous industrial companies present to display in the exhibition area not only new machinery for biomass processes but also research and laboratory equipment. Also, space was set aside for showing the current, numerous projects funded by the European Union.

The relevance of the EUBCE for industry and enterprises was best summarized by Marko Janhunen, the Chair of the Advanced Biofuels Coalition who underlined that “European Union Strategic Autonomy calls for a strong recognition and refined vision for circular bioeconomy as an integral part of achieving our climate goals and creating investments worth billions. The European Biomass Conference and Exhibition (EUBCE) in Bologna demonstrates the EU’s capabilities and our leadership in knowledge, innovation, and sustainability. We must now create a proper enabling, not restricting, policy framework to lead us towards the European Union Beyond Fossils.”

The next EUBCE will be held in June 2024 in Marseille, France. In the meantime, participants will have the opportunity to review all the conferences by accessing an online platform which will be available until September 2023.

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