Espoo, 17 March 2014

The YEAR Seminar on Biofuels took place on 17 March 2014 at VTT in Espoo (Finland). YEAR brought together young researchers from AICIA, AIT, SINTEF, TNO, VITO and VTT experts in the field of biofuels. The following conclusions can be drown from the roundtable discussion:

Value chains and sustainability for advanced biofuels in Europe

  • YEAR young researchers encourage the R&D community to further explore the synergies of thermal and biochemical routes by bringing together experts from both fields.
  • The lack of alternative fuels for the heavy transport sector (e.g., aviation, shipping) makes it a frontrunner in the development of advanced liquid biofuels. Other sectors should follow its lead.
  • Policy makers should acknowledge uncertainties in climate impact assessment of biofuel value chains and take them into account in decision-making. Renewability of biomass is a value on its own, to separate from GHG emission savings.
  • Policy makers and companies upstream in the value chain (the first step of biomass conversion) should encourage a broad spectrum of feedstocks and smart management regimes to meet local needs and conditions and sustainability requirements for biofuels.

Multi-product biorefineries

  • We recommend that the sustainability guidelines consider multiproduct biorefineries instead of focusing on single energy product.
  • From an economic point of view, we can conclude that materials and chemicals are very important, therefore multiproduct biorefineries can be competitive by producing higher value materials without compromising product quality.

CO2 to chemicals

  • YEAR young researchers also point at the fact that flue gases are non-renewable in EU, whereas they are in the rest of the world. This puts the European research proposals in a competitive disadvantage compared to the rest of the world.

BioCCS

  • BioCCS is the only large scale technology that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Incentives (e.g., subsidies, emission trading) are essential for the successful implementation and development of BioCCS.
  • BioCCS must be integrated in the overall value chain for GHG balance in biorefineries.
  • In general, RTOs should find ways to communicate scientific facts to the EU in order to improve knowledge transfer.