The 26th European Biomass Conference and Exhibition started on Monday 14th May in Copenhagen with an inspiring opening session featuring ambitious industrial initiatives, policy updates and a lively panel discussion on the vital role of biomass for climate protection and sustainable development.
Attendance at this 26th edition confirmed the importance of this event for stakeholders of the biomass sector: more than 800 plenary, oral and visual presentations, 74 conference sessions, 8 industry oriented sessions, and moreover parallel events, workshops and networking events. In addition to the scientific content, the EUBCE includes an international Exhibition gathering companies from 14 countries.
The conference is organized with the scientific support of the European Commission Joint Research Centre. “We need to get the best out of biomass, we need to prioritize the most effective bioenergy pathways that deliver robust GHG reductions that maximise our contributions to the climate and energy goals”, said Piotr Szymanski, Director of Energy, Transport and Climate of the EC Joint Research Centre, opening the first session.
“Bioenergy is an indispensable part of the future energy supply in the short-term and the long-term. EUBCE is a perfect setting for discussing research and technological development as well as the sustainability of bioenergy, in order to maximize its contribution to mitigate climate change”, said Michael Persson, Head of Secretariat, Danish Bioenergy Association, this year’s Conference General Chairman. “The EUBCE has a very important role for biomass”, continues Persson, “it is a fundamental platform to disseminate knowledge in this sector among science, business and the political world. I am very happy that this event takes place in Denmark”.
Dorte Nøhr Andersen, Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate, Denmark, remarked that the country has a strategy to become independent from fossil fuels by 2050 and that biomass will be an important resource to achieve this. Today 43% of the Danish electricity production comes from wind, while bioenergy accounts for two thirds of the final supply of renewable energy.
Kyriakos Maniatis, policy officer EC DG Energy, presented the status of the revised Renewable Energy Directive, which will provide a clear roadmap for the future development of the EU bioenergy sector. He gave an overview of the positions of the Commission, the Parliament, and the Council in the final months of negotiation, which could be finalized by the end of 2018.
Among the representatives of the industrial world, Jennifer Holmgren, Chief Executive Officer of LanzaTech, presented the company’s current projects in Europe and worldwide, based on the recycling of carbon from industrial waste gases. “It is time to treat carbon as an opportunity not a liability, and carbon-smart technologies exist today that can do just that”, she said. “We need to act and we need to collaborate, any sustainable solution works. We need to move quickly enough and not be afraid to fail. Our Steelanol project is a great example of how Europe is utilizing public-private partnerships, to lead the transition to a low-carbon future while creating jobs and economic growth.”
“The sustainability challenge of our time requires bioenergy as a necessary component to achieve a decarbonised transport system”, Urban Wästljung, of Scania CV AB, said “We need to reduce emission by 50% every decade from now to 2050, we know how it can be done and we are sure this can be done”. The approach of Scania to reduce carbon emissions from heavy duty transports is based on increasing energy efficiency, using alternative fuels and electrification, but also on developing smart and safe transport.
“CO2 emissions from transportation in Europe are rising. To fuel a growing world, we need to apply all available technologies such as biofuels and electrification. We must utilize the sun, the wind and nature’s plants. That is the only answer to an urgent and complex challenge”, said Thomas Schrøder of Novozymes (Vice-President Biorefining Commercial).
Advanced biofuel companies were not the only ones to show substantial industrial progress at EUBCE 2018, biogas companies also presented very ambitious targets. “We want to become the new Vestas” (the Danish wind turbine company that is no.1 in the world), said Ole Hvelpund, CEO of Nature Energy. “The company started as a natural gas utility in the eighties and has become today the leading producer of biogas in Denmark, with 5 large scale facilities and several others under development. The future vision of Nature Energy is to grow our business beyond Denmark and the vision is to create an international center of excellence in green gas to grid from farm and food waste headquartered in Denmark”, he added. During the Opening ceremony, the company received the EUBIA Award (European Biomass Industry Association), for its contribution to greening the gas sector.
Claus Sauter, CEO of Verbio, also introduced the vision and plan for sustainable long-haul transport based on biomethane from 100 per cent straw, used with the new generation of CNG or LNG trucks. “Technologies are there, local feedstock is there but there is still no legal framework”, he remarked.
“The EUBCE programme once again displays the tremendous innovation potential of biomass conversion, and the fact that technologies are ready to be rolled out for new investments”, says Marko Janhunen, UPM Biofuels, Director Public Affairs and LSB Chair. “What the industry once again calls for is predictable and long-term policy framework in which companies can invest and operate”, he added.
Paolo Frankl, International Energy Agency, Head of Renewable Energy Division, moderated the panel debate about the role of bioenergy, with stakeholders from finance, industry, and institutions. He remarked that practically all scenarios for climate change mitigation consider biomass as a vital resource, although the deployment is still lagging behind. “Ambitions on bioenergy are very high, he said, but bad news: progress is not fast enough. The transport sector is not the easiest one to decarbonize.
“The emerging consensus is that we both need, and can, greatly accelerate sustainable low carbon bioenergy deployment in the next two decades”, said Renato Domith Godinho, Biofuture Platform Alternate Focal Point for Brazil, outlining a positive vision for the next decades.
“Bioenergy is central to a decarbonized energy system and could account for the majority of the renewable energy needed for heat and transport by 2050,” remarked Dolf Gielen, IRENA, Director of the Innovation and Technology Centre in Bonn, “but ensuring a sustainable, affordable and reliable feedstock supply is essential”.
“Biomass has multiple uses and shall play, for sure, a central role in the future energy systems both at European and global levels”, added Nicolae Scarlat, Technical Programme Chairman, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Directorate for Energy, Transport and Climate. “We have to acknowledge all environmental and socio-economic benefits of bioenergy, in addition to energy and climate impacts”.
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