Bioenergy in Europe. Opportunities and barriers

Jun 2006

The aim of this publication is to give a comprehensive overview of the opportunities for and barriers to bioenergy development in Europe. The study carried out within the Bioenergy Network of Excellence “Overcoming Barriers to Bioenergy” (Bioenergy NoE) covers EU policy issues and their implementation in Europe, biomass availability and technology development aspects, and RTD goals to overcome the barriers to bioenergy development.
Important European targets have been set for 2010, such as the White Paper targets of doubling the share of renewables to 12%, and tripling the use of biomass to 135 Mtoe (5.7 EJ) compared to 1997, the RES-E Directive target of a 21% share of green electricity, and the Biofuels Directive target of 5.75% of transport fuels to be supplied with biofuels. Recently, a Biomass Action Plan was launched. Further, a biofuels target of 20% substitution by 2020 has been proposed, and the maximum of 35% for the share of MSW to be landfilled has been set for the year 2016. EU policies and regulations are important drivers for bioenergy development in the EU countries.
In Europe, the use of biomass and wastes is presently about 2.9 EJ/a (69 Mtoe). By 2050, it is estimated that biomass and waste utilisation could rise to anywhere from 9.0 to 13.5 EJ/a (215-320 Mtoe). According to the Biomass Action Plan the measures could lead to the use of about 150 Mtoe (6.3 EJ) in 2010 or soon after. There are sufficient domestic resources to meet the EU targets set for the year 2010 but if more stringent goals are set for bioenergy in the future, it will be challenging to find sufficient resources in Europe and biomass imports from outside the EU will be necessary.
The barrier analysis carried out within the Bioenergy NoE resulted in a wide variety of non-technical and technical barriers. Overall, non-technical barriers dominate, with economic barriers being the most prominent. However, there is no single barrier that appears as the most important; it is the interaction of many barriers that impedes the rapid expansion of bioenergy use. Even omitting the economic barriers and biomass availability constraints technical barriers are critical in introducing novel production and utilization technology. Barriers defined for feedstock production, heat and power technologies, liquid biofuels technology, and waste to energy areas are presented. R&D work is suggested to overcome a wide variety of technical barriers related to individual
process steps within production and utilization schemes. The potential for significant biomass utilisation in Europe is influenced by EU and national policies and regulations, emissions trading, availability of biomass and the logistics of feedstock supply, the development of technologies, and economic and social issues. The CAP reform in 2003 substantially influences bioenergy development. A prerequisite for rapid implementation of new bioenergy solutions in the European market is the application of existing infrastructures in the conventional biomass production and energy sectors. Within the Bioenergy NoE, there is agreement that a considerable increase in the use of bioenergy cannot take place without industry support. Therefore the intended increase in the use of biomass can only be realised through new business opportunities.
Integration of capacities in bioenergy R&D is needed to reach the EU White Paper goals. New technologies and business concepts are needed, and Bioenergy NoE has to respond to the demands of the European Commission and industry. Integrating bioenergy production with forest industry, electricity and heat, waste recycling, liquid biofuel production and/or chemical industry improves competitiveness. Biorefineries and polygeneration of multiple products are widely seen as an important approach to efficiently utilise limited raw material resources.

By: L. Fagernäs et al.

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