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Advanced biofuels need favourable EU legal framework delegates told

Innovative, climate-neutral technologies are market-ready and can significantly cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions within the European transport sector. Advanced biofuels will be in use soon and are critical for achieving the EU's ambitious climate objectives. REDII is a step in the right direction but policymakers must set the course for industry and create a stable framework for climate-friendly innovations and investments in European transport SUNLIQUID workshop delegates were told.

On September 5, 2019, the EU co-funded SUNLQUID research project held a workshop at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the EU in Brussels, Belgium. The one-day event was opened by Roland Weigert, State Secretary at the Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Regional Development, and Energy (left) all the speakers and the organizer Professor Haralabos Zorbas (right) Industrielle Biotechnologie Bayern Netzwerk GmbH (photo courtesy Veldeman).

Held on September 5, 2019, at the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union in Brussels, the workshop “Advanced Biofuels Towards Renewable Energy Transition in Europe” was organised by Industrielle Biotechnologie Bayern Netzwerk GmbH as part of the EU co-funded research project SUNLIQUID.

Opened by Roland Weigert, State Secretary at the Bavarian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Regional Development, and Energy the event attracted “many representatives from politics, industry, science, and society”. Speakers and panelists included Dr Ylwa Alwarsdotter, Executive Vice President of Business Development at SEKAB, Professor Andreas Hornung, Director Institute Branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg at Fraunhofer UMSICHT, and Philippe Mengal, Executive Director at Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU) who confirmed that the industry has already prepared market-ready technologies in order to produce advanced climate-friendly biofuels on an industrial level.

Call for a stable policy framework

The use of these biofuels is key to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions within the European transportation sector. The common understanding of the speakers was that policymakers must, therefore, establish a stable framework for the industry in Europe.

With the EU’s recently adopted Renewable Energy Directive recast (REDII), EU member states have agreed to provide significant support for expanding the use of advanced biofuels. Marko Janhunen, Director of Public Affairs at UPM, views this as a step in the right direction:

For the industry it is especially important that the REDII is transposed swiftly with sufficient ambition level. UPM welcomes the fact that many member states are starting to get serious with climate change mitigation, and are taking action to reduce transport CO2, Janhunen said.

REDII sets the target that renewable energy should cover 32 percent of total energy consumption in the EU by 2030. In the transport sector, the share of renewable fuels should be 14 percent by 2030.

Fixed quotas have also been set for the blending of advanced biofuels with petroleum-based fuels. From 2022, the blending quota in conventional fuels is 0.2 percent rising to 3.5 percent by 2030.

Potential and benefits of advanced biofuels in Europe

Many EU member states have a large, untapped potential in residues and waste material that could serve as raw material for producing biofuels. Advanced biofuels are sustainable and almost climate-neutral through the use of renewable raw materials.

Furthermore, advanced biofuels can be used within the existing infrastructure as they can be mixed with petroleum-based fuels for conventional combustion engines. In order to achieve the ambitious climate targets defined by the EU, all existing technologies must come to use.

However, speakers highlighted that policymakers must establish the necessary prerequisites on the European and national levels for making existing innovative technologies widely available on an industrial scale.

Dr Gloria Gaupmann, Head of Public Affairs, Technology & Innovation at Clariant, sees that EU member states are required to support the industry in their efforts and investments.

The Commission must keep a close watch on the member states to ensure a coherent and forceful implementation of the agreed targets. In addition, the Commission together with the EU legislators has to set the path towards 2050 where advanced biofuels should finally come from niche to norm, Dr Gaupmann said.

About SUNLIQUID

Funded under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP7), the goal of the SUNLIQUID project and its consortium is to demonstrate that the technology, based on Clariant’s proprietary “sunliquid” process, to manufacture cellulosic ethanol on a commercial scale is ready and economically viable. Clariant is building a new commercial-scale production plant for cellulosic ethanol made from agricultural residues in Podari, Romania and seen as a decisive step in introducing the innovative sunliquid technology to the European market.

Coordinated by Clariant Produkte (Deutschland) GmbH, Germany, additional consortium partners include Clariant Products RO Srl, Romania; Exporthungary, Hungary; Energy Institute at the Johannes Kepler University Linz (EI JKU), Austria; Industrielle Biotechnologie Bayern Netzwerk GmbH (IBB), Germany and Bavarian Research Alliance Gmbh (BAYFOR), Germany. The 6-year project (March 2014 – March 2020) has been granted EUR 23 million in EU-funding.

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