Be-Sustainable - Issue 9, 2018

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Be sustainable

The magazine of bioenergy and the bioeconomy May 2018



Marginal Land | Sustainable Value Chains |European Technology Platform Bioenergy Emerging Technologies | Aviation Biofuels | Agro-Food Waste

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INSPIRING STORIES OF SUSTAINABLE INNOVATIONS We are happy to present this new issue of BE-Sustainable at EUBCE 2018, once again in Copenhagen after five years since our last event in this city. The article on Denmark in this issue, is a collection of inspiring stories of innovation. This country always offers examples of how biomass resources in their variety can be used in relation to all energy uses, fostering the transition towards a low-carbon economy, while creating opportunities for sustainable growth. Today the Danish bioenergy sector encompasses 1,200 companies and employs 11,500 people, generating a turnover of EUR 3.3 billion, with a significant share of export. Bioenergy technologies are the second largest type of renewable energy exported by Denmark after wind power technologies. Thanks to a massive transition towards a wind-based power sector, together with a biomass-based CHP sector, the country aims at phasing-out coal power plants completely by 2023. While it is good as well as necessary that the scientific debate on the use of biomass resources for energy continues, international consensus is growing on the fact that sustainable bioenergy is an essential tool in the portfolio of the measures we need to achieve a low-carbon scenario. Bioenergy must be absolutely sustainable, but it also needs to be deployed

soon and at a quite large scale if we want this contribution to be delivered in a time frame compatible with the Paris climate agreements. Hopefully, the conclusion of the negotiations for the new EU Renewable Energy Directive, will create the conditions for European companies to make the new long-term investments necessary to achieve this, in Europe and globally.

the industrial demonstration of emerging technologies. The status of innovation and technology progress in biofuels and bioenergy, was also one of the topics discussed at the Stakeholder Plenary Meeting of the European Technology and Innovation Platform Bioenergy, recently held in Brussels, which we cover in this issue. Another debated topic is the costcompetitiveness of liquid biofuels with increasing electrification of transports and low oil prices; an article by IRENA analyses it under different scenarios. We hope you will enjoy the magazine, and we invite you to share your stories with us.

One of the key questions in bioenergy is always how to secure a stable supply of biomass resources sustainably. This is the reason why this issue of the magazine features an overview on initiatives and ongoing projects that are addressing this challenge Happy reading. under multiple perspectives: how we can use marginal lands for biomass, how we can adopt innovative cropping systems to grow both food and energy crops and how to use residues and wastes from agricultural and landscape management, for bioenergy but also for bio-products. Another important priority is to develop more efficient and more feedstock-flexible processes, as sustainability can be achieved also through an industry capable of using different types of resources in an efficient way. In this regard, it is necessary Maurizio Cocchi to continue with the efforts in Editor research and development of innovative processes and in 3 Be

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Be sustainable

BE sustainable ETA-Florence Renewable Energies via Giacomini, 28 50132 Florence - Italy Issue 9 - May 2018 ISSN- 2283-9486

Editorial notes 3 M. Cocchi Marginal lands for Growing Industrial Crops: Turning a burden into an opportunity 6 E. Alexopoulou, CRES, Greece The potential of marginal lands for bioenergy W. Gerwin, F. Repmann, S. Galatsidas, N. Gounaris, D. Vlachaki, E. Dimitriadis, V. Ivanina, C. Volkmann, W. Baumgarten, SEEMLA Project


Developing sustainable value chains for advanced biofuels M. Cocchi, Andrea Monti


Experience a Living Lab for Bioenergy Technology: Think Denmark M. Marriner, M. Persson


Innovative double-loop biogas digestate handling at Samsø K.Tybirk,G. de Carvalho Quinta


Setting a higher pace in the implementation of bioenergy P.Klintbom


ETIP Bioenergy Stakeholder Plenary Meeting M. Cocchi


Bioenergy and Biofuels – Innovation and Technology Progress L. Waldheim, F. Girio


Low TRL Biofuel Technologies 34 D. Bacovsky, A. Sonnleitner BIO4A: new H2020 project on Sustainable Aviation Fuel in Europe takes off D. Chiaramonti


flexJET project converts organic waste into sustainable aviation fuel S. Capaccioli


Prospects for Liquid Biofuels: Meeting the Challange of EVs and Low Oil Prices J. Skeer, R. Leme, F. Boshell


INSPIRE: Insights on Biofuels Innovation from IRENA’s Patents Database A. Salgado, F. Boshell, J. Skeer, R.Leme


Recycling and Valorization of Agri-Food Waste S. Ward


Biomass from landscape conservation and maintenance work A. Clalüna, C. Volkmann, S.Kühner


BRISK2 : Building Biofuels Research 57 P. Try Upcoming Bioenergy Events

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IMPRINT: BE Sustainable is published by ETA-Florence Renewable Energies, Via Giacomini 28, 50132 Florence, Italy Editor-in-Chief: Maurizio Cocchi | | twitter: @maurizio_cocchi "Direttore responsabile: Maurizio Cocchi" "Autorizzazione del Tribunale di Firenze n. 548/2013" Managing editor: Angela Grassi | Authors: E. Alexopoulou, D. Chiaramonti, W. Gerwin, F. Repmann, S. Galatsidas, N. Gounaris, D. Vlachaki, E. Dimitriadis, V. Ivanina, C. Volkmann, W. Baumgarten, M. Cocchi, A. Monti, M. Marriner, M. Persson, K. Tybirk, G. de Carvalho Quinta, P. Klintbom, L. Waldheim, F.Gírio, D. Bacovsky, A. Sonnleitner, J.Skeer, R. Leme, F.Boshell, A. Salgado, S. Ward, A. Clalüna, S. Kühner, P. Try. Marketing & Sales: Graphic design & Layout: Laura Pigneri, ETA-Florence Renewable Energies Print: TAF Tipografia Artistica Fiorentina Website: The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. Images on cover Nature Energy Plant, Holsted ©NGF Nature Energy Image on page 46 by ©; Image on page 38-39 by © studio; Image on page 40-41 by © suttakarn; Image on page 42 by ©

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ndustrial crops can provide abundant renewable biomass feedstocks for the production of high addedvalue bio-based commodities (i.e. bio-plastics, bio-lubricants, bio-chemicals, pharmaceuticals, bio-composites, etc.) and bioenergy. They can be broadly categorised as oil, lignocellulosic, carbohydrate or specialty crops. Most of them are multipurpose crops offering the opportunity to follow a cascade bio refinery concept to produce a number of value added bio products and bioenergy, thus feeding the bio based economy. Prospectively, industrial crops can increase

and diversify farmers’ income through access to novel biobased markets (i.e. bulk and fine chemical, biomaterial or bioenergy industries, amongst others), and the possibility to exploit marginal land with limited value for conventional agriculture. In recent years, a debate has emerged regarding food security and land use for bioenergy/industrial non-food crops. Cultivating industrial crops on marginal land unsuitable for food production is consistently proposed as a viable alternative to minimize land-use competition for food production, and its adverse

effects (direct or indirect) on food security, land based GHG emissions and biodiversity loss. The term ‘marginal land’ has entered the wider political debates, and today biofuel crops are generally promoted and supported on marginal land; nonetheless, marginal land has been not yet unequivocally defined, and there is not a clear information on where, when and how much genuine marginal land is available. Several studies agree on the existence of ~1,350,000 hectares of land in Europe deemed less favourable for conventional agriculture. This land has been

Figure 1 – MAGIC explores the cultivation of industrial crops on marginal lands to avoid land use competition with food.

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either abandoned because of its productivity, or it is used as grassland. MAGIC project (Figure 1) is based on the premise that cultivation of selected industrial crops on areas facing natural constraints (e.g. extreme climatic conditions, low soil productivity, steep slope, etc.) can i) ensure the production of resource-efficient feedstocks, with low indirect land-use change (iLUC), for a growing bio-based industry, and ii) increase farmers’ incomes through access to new markets and the revalorization of marginal land. It has been estimated that as many as 2.5 million potentially contaminated sites exist across Europe, whose management cost (81% only for remediation) is about ₏ 6.5 billion per year. In MAGIC, contaminated and degraded soils will also be included as it is well documented that the proportion of these land-types is increasing due to anthropogenic activities. Contaminated soils cannot be used for food or feed production for sanitary reasons and thus provide great potential for the production of biomass for material or energy use. In this context, MAGIC project aims towards the development of resource-efficient and economically profitable industrial crops to be grown on marginal land. In the long term, this strategy will foster the sustainable development of the EU bio-based economy and will contribute to achieving EU energy and climate targets.

ha, either abandoned because its productivity is too low to provide enough income to farmers, or as underused land by farmers whose income is hardly above their opportunity costs. Agriculture on marginal land with existing (food) crops has few chances to improve as the crops used are not well adapted to marginal conditions. A large number of industrial crops have been tested on both EU and national projects for bio-based products and energy. Most of these crops are reported as crops with ability to grow on marginal land. Thus, the idea to use this land for growing industrial crops as feedstock for the bio-based industry has the advantage that will not affect the food vs fuel competition. Moreover, part of the marginal land has been recorded as contaminated and polluted being inappropriate for food and feed crops growing for sanitary reasons, but can be exploited for industrial crops cultivation. In 4FCROPS and Crops2Industry projects the industrial crops were categorized to: oil crops, perennial grasses, fibre crops, woody species, carbohydrate crops and other specialty crops. In MAGIC the industrial crops will be categorised in four groups: a) the oil crops (camelina, crambe, lesquerella, cuphea, castor, safflower, flax, etc.), b) the lignocellulosic crops that will include the fibre crops (flax, hemp, kenaf, nettle, biomass sorghum, etc.), the perennial herbaceous crops (switchgrass, THE CONCEPT BEHIND THE giant reed, miscanthus, reed MAGIC PROJECT canary grass, etc.) and the A current estimate of marginal woody species (willow, poplar, land of various types existing eucalyptus, robinia, etc.) c) the in Europe is about 1,350,000

carbohydrate crops (biomass sorghum, cereals, sugar beet, etc.) and d) specialty crops. Several of the above mentioned crops are multipurpose ones like hemp, flax and cardoon. It should be pointed out that a large number of specialty crops with pharmaceutical and nutraceuticals uses are oil crops. There is an increasing need for biomass feedstock for industrial uses in Europe and quite important research has been carried out as early as the beginning of 1990’s for a large number of industrial crops as a feedstock for value added bio-products (biochemicals, biomaterials, etc.) and bioenergy; however, their insertion into European agricultural practice is still limited. A large number of projects for industrial crops have been funded and outstanding innovations have been achieved from production to the end use. On the other hand, the market share for bio-based products in EU28 presents a fast growing trend, as a result of the increased awareness and product availability in the EU markets. Much R&I efforts has been made in recent years to produce biofuels (e.g. 2nd generation bioethanol) from industrial crops. Europe has a few small companies specialised in bio-based products and several major chemical companies developing bio-based applications. At this point, it is worthwhile to mention that in 2010 the European chemical industry used about 8-10% renewable materials to produce various chemical substances and polymers. For the revival of rural areas in regions with marginal lands, new options need to be developed ensuring higher economic 7 Be

MAGIC builds on the idea of sustainable exploitation of marginal lands for the cultivation of industrial crops, with low ILUC effects, offering both resource-efficient varieties for attractive industrial applications and diversification of farmers’ revenues through access to new markets (Figure 2). MAGIC CONSORTIUM

MAGIC consists of proponents, pioneers and key players within 8 Be

Industrial crops to be grown on marginal land (~1,350,000 ha in Europe) to avoid food vs fuel competition

Added value of the end-uses applications

This offers at least five advantages: • Enable Europe to increase domestic production of feedstocks for the growing EU bio-based economy reducing its dependence on imports. • Improve the livelihoods in marginal areas by placing abandoned marginal land in use again, thus improving farm income. • Mitigate the competition between the production of bio-based raw materials and food production. • Creating new business models for value chains, leading to economic growth and job creation. • Mitigate environmental and ecological risks by soil abandonment such as soil erosion and natural hazards (avalanche, fire and flood risk).

Industrial crops contribute: a) to the diversification of farmers' income and b) to the supply of renewable raw materials

Fine or bulk chemicals



Industrial applications fostering the biobased economy

Climate change mitigation

Figure 2: Overall MAGIC concept. Industrial crops contribute: a) to the diversification of farmers' income and b) to the supply of renewable raw materials

the academic and commercial domain of sustainable production-chains for industrial Industrial crops to be grown on crops (breeding-agronomymarginal land (~1,350,000 ha harvesting-logistics-conversion in Europe) to avoid food vs on and end-uses) marginal fuel competition land. MAGIC will capitalise the outstanding experience and knowledge gained by partners in previous and on-going projects on industrial crops and marginal land maximising its/ their impact beyond completion, avoiding duplications. MAGIC will complement those projects by strengthening the knowhow of the MAGIC consortium within the context of industrial crops on marginal land for a growing bioeconomy. Most of the partners are pioneers in the field of industrial crops and have coordinated or participated on the key research projects that had been funded at EU level with a total budget around of 400 million €. The MAGIC consortium (25 partners from 12 European countries) consists of: research organisations/institutes, Added value of the end-uses applications

margins for farmers, while, at the same time providing products that can compete in the market. Such new options can come from the production of industrial raw materials from crops that have a high resilience to marginal conditions.

Fine or bulk chemicals

Industrial universities, applications SMEs, farmers’ fostering the cooperatives, farming biobased economy consultants and major industry Biomaterials players. A multi-actor forum will also be established including Climate change Bioenergy EU and international NGOs and mitigation policy makers having an advisory role. Ultimately, this “team-up” of key players corresponds to a first attempt at stream-lining efforts from various fields of knowledge to create a framework for the exploitation of marginal land for the production of industrial crops. MAGIC aims to put all the pieces of the puzzle together in the creation of sustainable bio-based production chains on marginal land.

For further information: This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727698.

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THE POTENTIAL OF MARGINAL LANDS FOR BIOENERGY Werner Gerwin, Frank Repmann, BTU, Germany Spyridon Galatsidas, Nikos Gounaris, Despoina Vlachaki, Elias Dimitriadis, DUTH, Greece Vadym Ivanina, IBC&SB, Ukraine Christiane Volkmann, Wibke Baumgarten, FNR, Germany, SEEMLA Project

For a long time, marginal lands have been considered as promising alternative for sustainable production of bioenergy. However, there are many issues to tackle before determining whether a marginal land is able to sustain production on industrial scale or not.


he uncertainty arising from marginal land classification and quantification is the major constraining factor for its potential use. Moreover, in many cases land marginality is determined by dynamic features and may therefore constitute a transitional state. The definition and classification of marginal lands must be defined for all actors dealing with biomass, to increase biomass production for bioenergy on marginal lands and to set a corresponding basis for policy and legal frameworks in Europe. Furthermore, it is necessary to provide information about soil fertility potentials and environmental

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constraints as a basis for selecting suitable bioenergy crops and cultivation practices. SEEMLA CONTRIBUTION TO UNDERSTANDING MARGINAL LANDS AS A CATEGORY OF UNDERUTILISED LANDS Launched in 2016, the EU-funded project “Sustainable exploitation of biomass for bioenergy from marginal lands” (SEEMLA) aims at establishing suitable innovative land-use strategies for a sustainable production of bioenergy on marginal lands while improving general ecosystem services. Therefore, as one of the first tasks, SEEMLA faced the problem of

general understanding of “marginal land” concept and its limitations, considering other relevant approaches. Various definitions of marginal lands can be found in scientific literature which mainly reflect the nature of land use and do not provide any information about environmental or economic qualities. Set aside from agricultural practice, marginal lands have been called, e.g., ‘idle’, ‘abandoned’, ‘surplus’, ‘degraded’, ‘waste’ or ‘set-aside’. The approach of SEEMLA focuses on sites mainly affected by anthropogenic degradation, i.e. mismanagement of land (see Figure 1). According to the SEEMLA

Picture above: A marginal land in Yaltushkivska Experimental Breeding Station of the Institute of Bioenergy Crops and Sugar Beet National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine. There was an illegal dump on this site several years ago. Now, here is a pilot case for the cultivation of miscanthus and willow on the SEEMLA project. The pilot case is located in the Vinnytsia region (Ukraine).

definition, marginal lands do not include sites with potentially high productivity which were set aside or were temporarily abandoned due to certain socio-economic reasons. In addition, lands with naturally extremely low soil fertility as well as most parts of brownfields or anthropogenic, highly contaminated wastelands are also not contemplated by SEEMLA. Conflicts related to other land-use options, such as nature conservation, forestry or agriculture, hence are expected to be minimized when underutilized land is selected for future biomass production. In addition to environmental and economic constraints, a comprehensive list of legislative limitations within the European countries was compiled by SEEMLA to illustrate pending political decisions with respect to utilizing marginal lands. Currently, there is not an official EU definition for marginal lands nor the potential use of marginal lands has been specified on the regional, national and EU level. However, it is the aim of SEEMLA to offer policy recommendations that will also include the important aspect of using marginal lands for biomass production to provide sustainable bioenergy. ASSESSING MARGINAL LANDS – SQR AND GIS AS TOOLS FOR QUANTIFYING MARGINALITY Based on a method for quantifying soil fertility of arable land, the SEEMLA consortium was able to successfully assess the marginality of selected case study sites in Ukraine, Greece and Germany. It proposes an integrated approach which evaluates physical, environmental, socioeconomic and ecological factors through multi-criteria analysis and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at European level. Soil quality was assessed by using the

Müncheberg Soil Quality Rating (SQR) tool , being adapted by the SEEMLA partner Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany. The application of the Müncheberg Soil Quality Rating (SQR) tool allows an easy access to a large number of different marginality criteria and indicators similar to those elaborated for identifying severe natural constraints to agriculture in the EU (Areas with Natural Constraints, ANC). The SQR incorporates soil quality, topography (slope) and climate (soil thermal & moisture regimes) factors, categorized as either basic or hazard indicators (HI). SQR scores range from 0 (very poor soil conditions) to 100 (very good soil conditions). Land of poor (20<SQR<40) or very poor (SQR<20) soil quality is considered marginal within the SEEMLA context. The application of the SQR method at the case study sites of the project allowed for the discrimination of three groups of marginal lands: 1. abandoned arable lands that are frequently found in Eastern European countries and offer

some potential for agriculture, but their fertility is usually clearly limited in comparison with other sites; 2. mountainous sites (particularly in Mediterranean regions) often exhibiting very shallow rooting depth due to degradation by erosion processes; 3. post-mining sites (investigated in Eastern German lignite mines) being characterized by very low humus and nutrient contents and partly by extreme acidification potentials. Figure 2 illustrates the relationship between soil fertility as quantified by means of SQR scores and average biomass yields for different bioenergy plants of SEEMLA case study sites in Europe. To identify marginal lands Europewide a GIS tool has been developed on the ESRI ArcGIS platform. Pan-European datasets of the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC) have been primarily used to calculate the values of all basic indicators and ten soil hazard indicators. Moreover, data from the Harmonized World Soil Database were used for areas or

Fig.1 - SEEMLA definition of marginal lands.

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parameters not covered by the ESDAC datasets, especially for Ukraine. Global elevation (SRTM) and climate (WorldClim) datasets were also included in the inputs of the ArcGIS tool to identify marginal land (Figure 3). It should be noted that the resolution of the input datasets varies from 250 m to 5 km which greatly affects the accuracy of the output. Using available environmental data – soil-related, topographic and climate data – and excluding unsuitable sites (e.g. classified areas for nature conservation), it was possible to give a first quantification of marginal lands in Europe. According to preliminary SQR

results (Figure 3), 45 % of Europe is covered by marginal lands (220 Mha), however, only 13 % (63 Mha) is available for biomass production (Figure 4). This reduced number of potentially available marginal lands reflects considerations regarding nature conservation or restrictions due to other applied policies or constraints related to land use. UTILIZING MARGINAL LANDS – A STRATEGY FOR BIOMASS PRODUCTION The SEEMLA project focuses on a sustainable re-conversion of marginal lands to produce bioenergy. One central objective of

the SEEMLA approach is to provide producers who are interested in growing biomass with information about bioenergy crops suitable for specific site conditions. Part of the SEEMLA action, therefore, consisted in the elaboration of a catalogue of bioenergy crops and of corresponding technologies for planting, harvesting and utilizing these crops. The SEEMLA GIS tool includes the information from the catalogue and can suggest suitable bioenergy crops for selected sites, considering the respective marginality factors (Figure 5). The lignocellulosic bioenergy crops selected for the SEEMLA project include both herbaceous crops, e.g. Miscanthus and switchgrass, and woody crops, e.g. basket willow, poplar, black locust, black pine and Calabrian pine. Therefore, the sitespecific selection of bioenergy crops depends on site characteristics, biogeographical region and the foreseen end-use of the biomass produced. The application of such constraints greatly decreases the marginal land that can be used to sustainably produce biomass for bioenergy. Despite of this, the estimated area, especially in Mediterranean countries, is expected to be enough to sustain biomass production at industrial scale. Hazard indicators act as constraints

Fig.3 - Identified marginal lands in Europe based on SQR tool using nine HI.3

Fig. 4 - Identified marginal land being available for biomass production for bioenergy purposes according to SEEMLA GIS tool.

Fig. 5 - Identified marginal land appropriate for biomass production using selected bioenergy crops which is based on SEEMLA GIS tool.

Fig.2 - Soil quality assessment and biomass yield from marginal lands.

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for the use of specific bioenergy crops and point towards the ones being more productive under given circumstances. Therefore, selecting the most suitable species to these extreme conditions is really important to sustainable biomass production: consequently, SEEMLA project developed a matrix to facilitate the selection of bioenergy crops (Table 1). Another aspect of bioenergy crops to be considered is that of biomass features. Even though herbaceous crops generally provide higher biomass yields per year in comparison with woody crops, they tend to have higher ash content, a characteristic that constraints their use for pellet production. The enduse of the biomass should be hence considered during the selection of the crop species. Moreover, biomass production using perennial crops can also provide environmental services, such as land restoration through erosion control

Table 1 - SEEMLA selection matrix of suitable energy crops.

and soil structural development. Land marginality may constitute a transitional state in these cases, due to dynamic soil characteristics. Furthermore, marginal land should not be considered as a mere dormant natural resource waiting to be used, since it may provide multiple benefits and services to society relating to wildlife, biodiversity or carbon sequestration. To determine land marginality at parcel level, the SEEMLA

consortium developed a web application. It is an open-access tool that allows users to perform several calculations in an easy manner, resulting in the identification of marginal lands, their primary land marginality factor and suitable crops. The SEEMLA web application incorporates SEEMLA GIS tool data and it functions as SQR calculator: both tools will be finalized at the end of the project, in December 2018.

Figure 6 - SEEMLA Web application user interface (

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DEVELOPING SUSTAINABLE VALUE CHAINS FOR ADVANCED BIOFUELS Maurizio Cocchi, ETA-Florence Renewable Energies Andrea Monti, University of Bologna


he deployment of sustainable bioenergy is urgently needed to reach our climate targets, as set out in the Paris Agreement. Advanced biofuels produced from non-food biomass, such as wood, straw, and lignocellulosic energy crops, are a key solution to decarbonize transport, especially in those sectors where alternative renewable fuels are not available yet, such as aviation, shipping, and long-haul transport. Since large volumes of biomass will be required to achieve this objective, how can we produce it sustainably, while preserving our environment and not reducing the agricultural lands required for food? BECOOL is a Horizon 2020 project that will foster the development of advanced biofuels from sustainable agricultural value chains, based on lignocellulosic biomass. Launched in June 2017, the 4-year project is coordinated by the University of Bologna, Department of Agricultural Sciences, and is carried out by a consortium of

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thirteen partners from seven EU countries, including universities, research institutes, industries and SMEs. The project is based upon three pillars covering the whole value-chain: from the production and harvesting of non-food crops and crop residues (1), to the efficient logistic of feedstocks (2), and their conversion into a range of products, for transport, including aviation (3). The division of tasks within the consortium is well balanced in the main parts of the value chain. Four partners (UNIBO, CRES, CIEMAT and CREA) address lignocellulosic feedstock production and harvesting. Five partners work on thermochemical and biochemical conversion processes (BTG, Biochemtex, ECN, VTT and RECORD). Three partners develop logistic concepts and integrated assessment of selected whole value chains (Wageningen UR, DBFZ and IIASA). Finally, ETA-Florence and the University of Bologna take care of dissemination, communication, exploitation and data management

activities. INNOVATIVE CROPPING SYSTEMS AND FEEDSTOCK DIVERSIFICATION A fundamental component of BECOOL is the development of integrated biomass supply systems, encompassing annual crops and perennial dedicated lignocellulosic crops, together with crop residues such as straw, and lignin-rich and bagasse residues from bioethanol production. On the agricultural side, BECOOL partners are working since the beginning of the project to test and to demonstrate integrated cropping systems, based on a rotation of annual lignocellulosic crops with conventional food crops, and intercropping. In this way, land competition between food and biofuel crops will be substantially mitigated, while land cover and land use increased. Since 2017, experimental field trials were established in Greece, Italy and Spain with fiber sorghum, sunn hemp, kenaf and hemp grown

in rotation with conventional food crops. The growth and yield parameters of both lignocellulosic crops and traditional food crops are being monitored constantly. Preliminary results from the first year are very encouraging, especially the rotational trials of sunn hemp grown as summer catch crop after maize in Greece and in Spain, and after wheat in Italy. In addition to annual crops, perennial grasses grown on marginal and idle lands will complement the lignocellulosic feedstock. In this case, the project is focusing on the cultivation of giant reed, miscanthus and switchgrass, and eucalyptus. EFFICIENT BIOMASS HARVESTING AND LOGISTICS Biomass logistics is another important element to ensure a viable production of advanced biofuels at large scale. Currently, lignocellulosic biomass for advanced biofuels plants consists mostly of crop residues (such as cereal straw), whose availability for the industrial plant is uncertain, as it can vary depending on factors such as the local annual productivity of cereal crops, and the demand for straw for competing usages (bedding, mulching etc.). In BECOOL, novel

biomass logistic concepts such as biomass yards/hubs, intermediate collection points, centralized and decentral pre-treatment steps etc., will be evaluated using available logistic tools (ex. LocaGIStics, Bioloco and BeWhere). Afterwards, they will be applied to different conditions, to provide cost-effective logistic and to adapt the supply of biomass from a range of diverse feedstocks to the requirements of standardized industrial conversion processes. The optimization of mechanical solutions to increase the efficiency of recovery of agricultural residues (chaff, maize cob, prunings) lignocellulosic crops and plantations, is another task carried out by the project: harvesting trials and demonstrations are therefore planned for this summer. OPTIMIZING PROCESS EFFICIENCY Another pillar of the project is the efficiency and the feedstock flexibility of the current thermochemical and biochemical conversion processes. Gasification trials have been conducted already with different biomass feedstocks (fibre sorghum, giant reed, eucalyptus, and others), by determining the viability of each feedstock and the optimal process conditions to produce a gas suitable

Fig.1 – Crop rotation trials: sunn hemp grown after maize in Greece in Sept. 2017. Source CRES.

for further upgrading into biofuels. In addition, gasification trials of fast-pyrolysis oil obtained from the same types of biomass will also be performed. The use of FPO instead of solid biomass for gasification would have the advantage of making the gasification process easier, thanks to its liquid form and its low ash content. Another research activity of the project will focus on improving the overall efficiency of lignocellulosic ethanol production, particularly by developing solutions for the valorization of the lignin-rich residue derived from lignocellulosic ethanol production. The residue will be used to produce additional heat, power, and lignin oil from fast pyrolysis. Lignin is the interface between the biochemical and the thermochemical platforms, and the oil could be a promising intermediate energy carrier for further upgrading into additional advanced biofuels. INTEGRATED SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT Besides experimental research, another objective of the project is to perform an integrated sustainability and market assessment of the different value chains. The study

Fig 2 – Harvesting of sunn hemp grown after wheat in Italy, Oct 2017. Source ETA-Florence Renewable Energies

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Fig. 3 – Gasification trials are being conducted on a wide range of lignocellulosic feedstock by ECN Netherlands. Source ECN

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Fig. 4 – Fast pyrolysis oil will be produced from different feedstock. A slurry made of FPO and char will be produced and tested by RE-Cord, Italy. A lignin oil from lignin-rich residues will be produced and tested by BTG Netherlands. Source: ETA-Florence Renewable Energies

will quantify the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the value chains and will identify the most promising ones under current and future market conditions. The assessment approach envisaged is based on comprehensive data from work packages dealing with cultivation, harvesting, logistics and processing of biomass. Thus, a coordinated approach for the collection of a consistent and harmonised database is necessary and this was the scope of a technical workshop held in Athens last January, where partners from all work packages gathered, to provide data and to compile feasible value chains of giant reed, eucalyptus, fibre sorghum and lignin-rich residue. The workshop was very successful in understanding the cross-cutting issues across different disciplines and in providing a clear picture of all the steps involved in the specific value chains.

The project consortium also includes research institutions and university partners, coordinated by the Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory (CTBE), of the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM). Building on the existing complementarities in scientific expertise and experience between EU and Brazil in the development of advanced biofuels, the two projects will adopt a synergistic work programme to develop a series of research and demonstration activities, covering the entire value chain in a balanced way. The cooperation between Europe and Brazil on advanced biofuels will bring mutual benefits and will create synergies at a scientific level. This will help exploit the full economic potential of advanced biofuel value chains while creating unique opportunities for both Brazilian and European companies.

BRAZIL-EU COOPERATION The activities of BECOOL are aligned with those of BioVALUE, a twin project in Brazil, funded by several State Foundations and Brazilian industrial companies.

Visit and watch our videos to learn more about the project activities.

Contacts: Andrea Monti University of Bologna viale G. Fanin 44, Bologna BECOOL (Brazil-EU Cooperation for Development of Advanced Lignocellulosic Biofuels) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme under Grant Agreement 744821 (Logo EU). The partners of the BECOOL consortium are: University of Bologna (Italy, coordinator); Biochemtex s.p.a. (Italy); Biomass Technology Group (The Netherlands); Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (Spain); Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving (Greece); Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’Analisi dell’Economia Agraria (Italy); Deutsches Biomasseforschungszentrum Gemeinnuetzige GmbH – DBFZ (Germany); Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (The Netherlands); ETA-Florence Renewable Energies (Italy); International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (Austria), Consorzio per la Ricerca e la Dimostrazione sulle Energie Rinnovabili (Italy); Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands); Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy (Finland).




EXPERIENCE A LIVING LAB FOR BIOENERGY TECHNOLOGY: THINK DENMARK Martha Marriner, Project Manager, State of Green Michael Persson, Head of Secretariat, Danish Bioenergy Association

The new incineration plant is located just 1,5 km from the Royal Palace in the center of Copenhagen ©Amager Resource Center

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he Danish bioenergy cluster is already well known to readers of this magazine. Last year a mapping of the cluster revealed that the cluster encompasses 1,200 companies with a turnover of EUR 3.3 billion, employs 11,500 people and has an export value of EUR 1.1 billion. The last figure in particular is striking. Bioenergy technology is actually the second largest type of renewable energy technologies being exported in Denmark. If we told you wind technology is number one, you probably wouldn’t be surprised, we are talking about Denmark after all! In order to investigate how the bioenergy cluster is continuing to forge ahead in this small island nation, the partners behind the original cluster analysis, the Danish Bioenergy Association, FORCE Technology and INBIOM (Innovation Network for Biomass), carried out a follow-up analysis, drilling down into the status of the bioenergy cluster with regards to innovation and internationalization. In this article, we present some of the findings from the analysis and provide conclusive evidence of how the bioenergy cluster is a source of continual innovation, making Denmark the natural choice of partner projects.

DENMARK: A WINNING COMBINATION OF LEADING RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS, FORWARD-THINKING POLICIES AND INNOVATIVE COMPANIES The strong position of the Danish bioenergy companies is the result of a long-term conducive business environment, created by visionary politicians and innovative researchers, innovators and industrialists. For example, Denmark is a leading country in terms of expenditure on research and development. When measured as a percentage of GDP, Denmark is ranked ninth overall (Source: OECD). An early pioneer of the so-called triple helix approach, the country has a strong track record of developing partnerships between research institutions, governmental institutions and industry to develop technological solutions that provide sustainable, competitive bioenergy. Significant policy measures that have supported the growth of the bioenergy cluster include special funding programs for energy technology, such as the Energy Development and Demonstration Program. Furthermore, regulatory frameworks incentivize the utilization of biomass, particularly in the heat and power sector. Initially

domestic biomass such as straw was utilised and subsequently extended to other types of biomass such as pellets and chips. This has helped facilitate the transition of a mainly coal-fired power and heat sector to a now primarily wind-based power production and biomass-based heat and power production. By 2023, Danish CHP plants will stop using coal altogether, making Denmark a member of an exclusive group of countries who will have succeeded in eliminating coal-fired power plants. Measures described above have created a unique environment, where cutting-edge biomass technology is constantly being developed and redeveloped. Read on to discover some of the world’s most innovative bioenergy solutions and why Denmark is the answer if you are looking to partner with advanced technology companies or test your technology. A HIGHLY INTERNATIONALISED CLUSTER OF COMPANIES Even though the large majority of companies in the bioenergy cluster are relatively small, it is remarkable that almost two-thirds (approximately 64%) of them have activities abroad, while 5% have foreign owners. The activities that

Amager Waste-fired combined heat and power plant © Copenhill

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the companies have abroad cover primarily sales and marketing (68%), and project-based installation and deployment (55%). About one-third have production operations abroad. Furthermore, 15% have research, development, testing and demonstration abroad. For the bulk of the companies in the bioenergy cluster, the main reason for having activities abroad is to gain market access. 78% of companies state this as their main reason. Other reasons given include lower costs and access to international networks. Export rates range from 0% to 90-100%. For one third of the companies, export revenues constitute more than half of total turnover. The most important export markets are the neighbouring European ones, such as Scandinavia, UK, Germany, Benelux, Poland and France. While the bioenergy companies expect to see continued growth in these markets, they are also beginning to focus on the Americas and Eastern Europe. UNPACKING THE SECRETS OF THE INNOVATIVE NATURE OF THE DANISH BIOENERGY CLUSTER Almost two thirds of companies in the Danish bioenergy cluster have activities within research, development, test and demonstration in Denmark. 73% of companies spend up to 10% of their costs on R&D, test and demonstration, while a research-oriented 24% elite spend between 11% to more than 50% of costs on these types of activities. It is the impression among 40% of the companies that their spending on bioenergy R&D, test and demonstration has increased over the last three years, while it has been stable among approximately half of the companies. These efforts within R&D are not 20 Be

in vain, with more than 50% of the companies surveyed having launched a new product, process or service directed towards the bioenergy sector within the last year. Where do new ideas come from? The primary sources for innovation are customers and cooperation partners, which are mentioned by 71% and 60% of companies respectively. Internal processes and idea generation is mentioned as a source by 45%, while regulation and legislation is mentioned by 28% of companies. Universities and research institutions are mentioned by 26% and 21% respectively. As for barriers to increasing investments in innovation, a lack of internal resources and lack of financing are the most important barriers. This is mentioned by approximately two thirds of companies. Given that the average size of the companies is relatively small, this is not surprising. Two thirds of the companies have engaged in cooperation with other companies or other stakeholders within R&D, test and demonstration. This serves as evidence of the high degree of cooperation within the bioenergy cluster. The most used cooperation partners are other companies, whether in Denmark or abroad, and Danish universities or research institutions. 58% of companies are of the opinion that such cooperation has had a decisive or substantial impact on the development of the company. EXAMPLES OF INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS FROM THE BIOENERGY CLUSTER IN DENMARK Dall Energy: A Low emission, Fuel Flexible Biomass Furnace What makes Dall’s solutions unique is the flexibility they provide. In contrast to conventional furnaces that burn only one type of fuel, such as wood chips or straw, Dall Energy technologies are able to utilise many

different types of materials. They convert them into gas, which is then burned. This results in emissions that are 95% lower than those produced by conventional biomass burners. Dall’s activities include a pilot plant, a demonstration project, a 2 MW plant and a 9 MW plant in Denmark, as well as overseas activities in the US and China. Furthermore, the biomass furnace has been selected as a success story by the International Energy Agency, as it contributes to sustainable bioenergy use. Billund BioRefinery: Resource Recovery for the Future Billund Biorefinery successfully combines some of the best and most innovative Danish environmental technologies within water treatment and biogas in one significant, fullscale demonstration project. Recognising that waste and wastewater are actually resources offering immense potential for the environment, the plant produces biogas from wastewater sludge and sorted household waste. By employing thermic hydrolysis, the plant combines wastewater treatment with biogasification of organic waste. The result is more efficient purification of wastewater than traditional wastewater treatment plants and at the same time, the plant produces 2.5 times more energy than it consumes. The plant also delivers CO2-neutral energy to 1,600 households and odourless fertilisers to the agricultural industry. Billund Biorefinery is a Danish municipally owned lighthouse project that has been made possible with the support of Danish Ministry of Environment and VTU Fonden (Water Sector Technology Development Foundation).

CopenHill: A Waste Incinerator with a Rooftop Ski Run Who says power plants can’t be aesthetically pleasing? Featuring a recreational ski slope on its slanting roof, the renowned Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) architect-designed CopenHill (known as Amager Bakke in Danish) is a waste-toenergy facility located just east of Copenhagen’s city centre that not only sets new standards for urban design and civic spaces, but also for capturing energy from the combustion of garbage. It produces heat, electricity, recyclable materials, and water from incinerating solid municipal waste, processing up to 560,000 tonnes annually or 35 tonnes an hour for each of the plant’s two lines. The facility is able to recover resources that otherwise would not be recycled. More than 90% of the metal in the bottom ash will be filtered out, which leaves a product for use by the construction industry

that easily meets strict requirements for heavy metal content and leaching behaviour. The Danish subsidiary Babcock and Wilcox Vølund supplies the entire combustion system from crane through feeding, the DynaGrate® combustion grate and boiler, to ash handling, as well as a particle and NOx-reduction system. As part of greater Copenhagen’s integrated district heating system, it supplies low-carbon electricity to 550,000 individuals and heating to 160,000 households. The total net energy efficiency rate of 107% is among the highest in the world for waste-to-energy technology. Green Gas in the Natural Gas Grid: Denmark a Global Frontrunner A well-known fact is that wind turbines and solar cells amount to an ever-increasing percentage of Denmark’s total power production. Less well known is that the gas

distribution network is already contributing significantly to transition to a carbon-neutral society. Three distribution companies, HMN Naturgas, Dansk Gas Distribution (Danish Gas Distribution) and NGF Nature Energy are responsible for the gas distribution network in Denmark, which amounts to a community investment of EUR 7.4 billion and provides more than 400,000 households and Danish companies with a stable and secure supply of gas. During the last three years, the production of green gas has increased just as much as it did the previous 30 years. This is because Denmark is starting to reap the benefits of many years of intense research and development. In 2014, the first green gas was applied to the country’s gas grid and by the end of 2018, green gas will comprise 10% of the distribution system. Due to the positive development, Denmark is already further with the green transition of the gas

Waste to energy with a twist ©Amager Resource Center

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distribution network than any other country. Further attention is being directed to the role of green gas in the energy systems of the future, due to its function as a flexible and CO2neutral fuel with grid-balancing properties. The Danish Town of Grindsted: Utilising DuPont Nutrition Bioscience’s Surplus Heat In 2017, the food business DuPont Nutrition Biosciences inaugurated a new facility in the Danish town of Grindsted that is powered by wood chips, thereby replacing 18,000 tons of coal and providing surplus heat that is utilised by the city’s 3,700 heating customers. DuPont produces food ingredients through an energy intensive process, with a heat consumption equivalent to that of more than 10,000 households combined. The collaboration between DuPont and Grindsted Electricity and Heating Plant is an excellent example of how the different interests of two actors can be reconciled to create more value for both. DuPont’s wood chip facility will reduce the company’s annual CO2 emissions by 64,000 tons – equivalent to the CO2 emitted by 27,000 cars. The wood chips are sourced from sustainable logging practices. The surplus 22 Be

heat supplies half of the district heating that the 3,700 consumers in Grindsted receive from Grindsted Electricity and Heating Plant. INNOVATIVE FINANCING MODELS APPLIED IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF BIOMASS POWER PLANTS In 2013, Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor A/S (BWSC), the fund manager Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) and the pension fund, PensionDanmark, formed a joint venture, BWSC PLC Ltd. to build, own and operate biomass power plants. CIP and PensionDanmark have financed the construction, while BWSC has supplied the biomass technology the plants are based on under turnkey contracts. The model has so far been applied to the construction of three biomass plants located in the United Kingdom, where Babcock & Wilcox Vølund has also been responsible for the construction of one of them. For example, the Snetterton plant is primarily fuelled by straw and has a capacity of 44MW, corresponding to the total consumption of 82,000 households, and reduces annual CO2 emissions by an approximately 300,000 tonnes. The plant consumes

in the region of 250,000 tonnes of straw per year, which is sourced from farmers throughout the local region. Overall, the biomass projects are attractive value propositions for funds under management companies, as they help secure good returns and address sustainability concerns. For the region in which the plant is located, it provides low-cost, sustainable energy for its citizens and provides a side income stream for farmers. CONCLUSION Bioenergy is the most important contributor of renewable energy on a global level and it continues to grow. However, bioenergy is also facing challenges, including from other technologies. Bioenergy must keep up the innovation pace and strive to become even more cost-effective. There are still efficiency gains to be made, whether in combustion technology, emissions, biofuels and biorefining or biogas. That is why it is important to continue to focus on innovation, whether in growing feedstocks, procuring and processing biomass etc. Stakeholders in the Danish Bioenergy Cluster are well aware of this.

The Ferry Prinsesse Isabella


Knud Tybirk, Samsø Municipality Giovanna de Carvalho Quinta, Aarhus University

Samsø municipality is preparing the ground to build a biogas plant to ensure the necessary gas supply for the ferry line connecting the island to the mainland. Environmental permits and work plans have already been approved: dialogue with potential investors is still ongoing.


he Island of Samsø is mainly known for the early potatoes and other high-quality vegetables at national level, while it is internationally renowned as the “Renewable Energy Island” with the ambitious goal to eradicate the use of fossil fuels for the ferries. In that context, the implementation of a biogas plant project is crucial for the agricultural sector and renewable energy targets.

The expected biogas production, accordingly to the available biomass resources on the island, will approximately cover the annual energy needs of the Ferry Prinsesse Isabella (30 GWh). This will reduce CO2 emissions by 13,000 tonnes per year. Biogas production implies an anaerobic digestion which produces a mixture of gases and a digestate that can be used as fertilizer. Although gas is usually the main product by

virtue of feed-in tariffs for power generation, in Samsø, the recycling potential thanks to digestate would have a strong impact on agriculture and society in terms of innovation. “It stays on the Island” is the buzzword for circular economy activities in Samsø: we must recycle both agricultural and urban waste to free ourselves from fossil sources. Therefore, Samsø Biogas does not only represent a source of liquefied bio-

Some crops grown in Samsø Island.

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gas for Prinsesse Isabella ferry, but also a matter of interest for farming community on handling residues for different crops and purposes. RESOURCES FOR THE BIOGAS PLANT AND WATER BALANCE Samsø Island has three different types of inputs that can be destined for the biogas plant for a total sum of 90,000 tonnes: • one third is slurry and deep litter from livestock; • one third is sewage from the food industry (pickling factory); • one third is solid biomass side streams from urban and farming activities. Some urban waste is subject to specific restrictions resulting from Danish legislation that limits its use on food crops. Farmers are very much aware of this regulation and they are extremely careful about maintaining the high-quality level of their products. The concept of circular economy has led to an interest towards recycling organic waste such as household litter, organic fraction of sewage, disposed vegetables from restaurants and shops. However, some farmers are reluctant to use potato and onion waste for biogas because of the potential spreading of crop-specific fungal diseases. Instead, most farmers are aware of digestate value in terms of fertilizer: raw agricultural waste such as manure can be readily used for all types of crop. In addition, we must consider that Samsø is one of the driest places in Denmark, and that intensive crop production requires an amount of irrigation which is jeopardizing the scarce groundwater resources. Moreover, treating sewage water in Wastewater Treatment Plant generates nitrogen evaporation as well as phosphorous sedimentation, and therefore, may potentially cause eutrophication. Given such circumstances, water 24 Be

Figure 1 - Samsø Island.

and nutrients should be recirculated through a new treatment depending on ultrafiltration of raw sewage. By means of it, sewage water could be used for fertilization while the organic fraction could go into the biogas plant, producing both energy and fertilizer. THE DOUBLE-LOOP SOLUTION MEETING FARMERS’ NEEDS Because of the above-mentioned risks, farmers were originally sceptical about whether all inputs could be mixed in one digester or not. To avoid any complication, it was deci-

Urban waste to resource line Digestate for grass

ded for two separate lines (Figure 2). •

The Yellow line is designed for food industry sewage, vegetables leftovers, scraps of food, organic household garbage, restaurant and shop waste and ultimately the organic fraction of general sewage. The digestate from this mix can be used to fertilize abundant grass seed fields since it does not require high nitrogen loads. After the harvest, remaining straw may be used too. The Green Line is intended for agricultural waste such as live-

Green agro-line

Slurry, straw, grass, agricultural wastes, digestate for all crops

Figure 2 - Samsø Biogas double-loop biogas digestate.

stock manure and straw: as a result, it produces a digestate to fertilize all types of crops which could even be used by organic farms. This innovative double-loop mechanism that differentiates between urban and agricultural waste can produce different types of fertilizer for many varieties of crops: while recycling all waste from society it ensures a high-quality food production. Indeed, the possibility of creating fertilizer for organic producers makes this concept much more valuable in an island context with relatively low livestock density. Furthermore, farmers cultivating potatoes and other vegetables complained for the progressive soil carbon depletion due to intensive soil tillage. It is currently being analysed whether a post digestion separation of the digestate could give a valuable fibre fraction to be used strategically for such types of soil. We are establishing values of balance for carbon in order to estimate sources and we are determining the carbon basins being required by three different cases of specialised farmers. Moreover, we are questioning if soil carbon level can be improved by post-digestate fibres high in slowly degradable carbon source (lignin). However, more work on the double loop concept is needed to balance the two lines and, most importantly, to convince all farmers of the quality of fertilizers so that the biogas plant may integrate carbon, water and nutrients. The Renewable Energy Directive, which is being negotiated in Brussels these months, is another important piece to the realization of this project as it could compensate for the additional costs of this innovative biogas plant.

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Patrik Klintbom, Chair of Steering Committee European Technology and Innovation Platform Bioenergy


irst of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the confidence entrusted in me as the new Chair of ETIP Bioenergy Steering Committee. I really look forward to working within bioenergy industry and I am eager to collaborate with other stakeholders to unlock the entire potential for bioenergy. If we join our forces and focus our efforts I believe that we can achieve important goals together. As we all strive for a sustainable society to come true, we must consider the transportation sector as well. A sustainable transport system cannot be contemplated without taking into account the issue of sustainability of energy supply. To this purpose, we absolutely cannot disregard bioenergy. Bioenergy in transport has an enormous potential whereas a level playing field and coherent policy frameworks are applied. Furthermore, as EU continues to address the creation of an Energy Union with secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy measures, bioenergy will play a key role. Today many available technologies

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can deliver sustainable fuels to the market. In addition, there are several technologies at the top of the TRL scale that are close to commercialization and other that still have some way to go to be proven viable. I believe that we can bring these technologies to market, given a sound political framework coordinated with research and innovation. We need a “sense of urgency� in order to push development forward. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves the reasons behind our actions even though it might seem obvious: our task is to radically change the way we use energy for transport. To proceed from a system that relies on fossil energy to one that is in balance with nature: that is not an easy task, but we all must roll up our sleeves to make it happen as soon as possible. In addition to introducing new fuels, we have to remember that we also need to reduce consumption, but that is a matter for a separate talk. Biofuels are often criticized and generalized in the current public debate and as human beings we tend to find new solutions as soon as we find the current ones complicated.

That is somewhat the case of electromobility: I totally believe in it, but I do not think it will make biofuels unnecessary. In my opinion, we should rather look for a synergy by a combination of their positive features. Speaking of decarbonizing transport, we should focus on alternatives instead of exacerbating internal competition: each technology should stand on its own merits, given a level playing field voted to transparency. Some of the criticism on biofuels is correct since they come from many different sources, but I believe that we can overcome this problem with a clear sustainability criteria framework. As the transport system is dominated by inertia, we need to leave the wait-and-see attitude and to take action. I am very optimistic about what we can achieve within the European Union. In order to succeed, we should go forward by developing research and innovation throughout the value chain as well as to explore new horizons by questioning ourselves and challenging the current state of affairs.


Ambitious targets, stable policy and continued R&I investments are the keys for the sector to deploy its full potential


he Plenary Meeting of the European Technology and Innovation Platform Bioenergy, held on 11-12 April in Brussels, attracted over 150 registered bioenergy stakeholders. The event was an opportunity for stakeholders to learn about the latest trends in advanced biofuels and bioenergy, covering the whole spectrum of technology readiness levels: from early stage research activities in emerging technologies for power and fuels, to large industrial demonstrations, and new commercial initiatives carried out by lead companies in advanced biofuels. The meeting showed the effectiveness of ETIP Bioenergy as an independent platform in combining the expertise of stakeholders from

both research organizations and industries in a transparent way, by providing insights on the sector, and essential information for the elaboration of future policies for the development and market uptake of bioenergy. Some common points recurred throughout several of the presentations given by different speakers. THE CONTRIBUTION OF BIOENERGY TO A LOW-CARBON SCENARIO The first one is the role of bioenergy in the future energy and climate scenario, which can be summarized in the position of the International Energy Agency, represented by Adam Brown: Sustainable bioenergy: an essential element in the portfolio of measures for a low-carbon scenario.

Advanced biofuels are the only longterm sustainable solution available for the decarbonization of transport sectors such as long-haul transports and aviation. Advanced biofuels and bioenergy intermediates play an essential role not only for energy use, but also and increasingly for energy storage. Another theme recurring in the words of many speakers was the issue of the availability of sustainable biomass, necessary to cover the demand of the biomass industry to achieve its long-term impact. A study (Research and Innovation perspective of the mid- and long-term Potential for Advanced Biofuels in Europe), published recently by DG RTD indicates a sustainable biomass potential of around 500 million 27 Be

tons by 2020. With appropriate Research and Innovation measures, an increase of up to 120% of this amount could be achieved by 2050. THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC BENEFITS Developing the advanced biofuel sector to achieve our climate goals will require significant investments in additional biofuel capacity, however, the study indicates that this can be achieved without impacting negatively on the EU’s GDP. On the contrary, some scenarios indicate the sector might be worth 365 bn € of turnover by 2050, and might generate up to 108,000 new permanent jobs. To achieve this, it will be necessary to improve the mobilization of feedstock, while reducing its cost, and to make production facilities more flexible to use different feedstock. At the same time, improving the efficiency of conversion processes will be also fundamental. This proves that even though advanced biofuels are already a commercial reality, research and innovation are still key to sustain the development of the sector. I want to invite all stakeholders to be active in Horizon 2020 proposals, especially in Innovation Actions, so to make this sector more powerful, Maria Georgiadou EC DG RTD said, presenting an overview of the Commission’s policies for research and innovation. STATE OF THE ART OF TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY An extensive and up-to-date overview on the status of implementation of the main biomass conversion technologies, was illustrated by Lars Waldheim. The industrial implementation of R&D breakthroughs requires patience and the economics of bridging the “development gap” from pilot plants to operational 1st-of-a-kind industrial plants is a

Panel of the first session: From left to right Paolo Corvo, Clariant; Björn Fredriksson Möller; EON Sweden, Marko Janhunen, UPM; Timo Ritonummi, Chair of SET-Plan TWG8, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment Finland; Maria Georgiadou, European Commission – DG RTD

main bottleneck for biofuels, and it is particularly challenging for singleproduct start-ups, he said. For this reason, support policies should be designed having this in mind, to be effective in reaching the desired impact, he concluded. A dedicated session analysed the current debate on the sustainability issues of biomass and biofuels and the issue of indirect land use change of biofuels. The ILUC factor is a proxy for regulation, a shortcut for a long debate, said Uwe Fritsche, IINAS. Although it is conceptually impossible to measure it, there is now a growing body of science-based evidence that shows that there are a lot of opportunities to reduce ILUC of biomass crops. Even though it is important to continue the debate on ILUC, there are safe options that we can adopt already today. Therefore we should move ahead immediately with these options, which could provide an “agreeable corridor” of 70 – 90 EJ of sustainable bioenergy globally by 2030. There is a huge potential to produce sustainable biofuels, we need to get over the complicated policy barrier and get there, said Patrik Klintbom, RISE Sweden, recently elected as the new chair of ETIP Bioenergy; lack of policies should not stop us from achieving our goals, he added.

INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES AND POLICY NEEDS Some of the leading companies presented the investment climate for advanced biofuels and bioenergy. Ten years ago we were a paper company, with the decline of the paper usage we tried to reinvent ourselves and we started developing advanced biofuels, said Marko Janhunen, UPM biofuels, presenting the company’s plans for wood-based biorefineries. There are tremendous opportunities for advanced biofuels, but we need stable regulatory framework and a mandate for advanced biofuels. In the past seven years we have never known what will be happening the next year. Now we need to know what is going to happen in the near future, he concluded. Paolo Corvo, Clariant, presented the state of development and the company’s investments in the Sunliquid technology for 2nd generation Ethanol. We have only 25% of the carbon budget available to meet the 2°C target, the technology is there, but a supportive legislation with a clear mandate from 2021 is necessary, there is a high market demand for advanced biofuels globally. It is now time to invest and to bring additional plants to the market. We recently announced our two projects, the first is a license sold in Slovakia and the second is our own investment in a plant in Romania. If we want to reach the 2050 climate goals we need to increase drastically our

efforts on biofuels, Hermann Pengg, Audi said. Electrification is good but not enough because we need to address the whole transport sector, so we need also biofuels. All solutions are needed, and we need to get to deployment quickly, Björn Fredriksson Möller said, EON Sweden. The good news is that there are many sustainable alternatives existing already today, like biomethane for transports. It’s not a competition “either or” between different technologies, we actually do need them all, Antti Arasto, VTT Finland, vice chair ETIP bioenergy, said. Currently, ETIP Bioenergy is delivering an important contribution to the implementation of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan Action 8: renewable fuels and bioenergy. An implementation plan, expected by the first half of 2018, will contain concrete R&I activities, and will propose relevant funding opportunities for their realization. Timo Ritonummi, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment Finland, chair of the Temporary Working Group for the Implementation Plan, presented the current state of the ongoing work. ABOUT ETIP BIOENERGY The European Technology and Innovation Platform Bioenergy is an industry-led stakeholder platform that brings together relevant actors from academia, industry, and civil society, engaged in the development of sustainable bioenergy and competitive biofuel technologies. One major task of ETIP Bioenergy is to address the technical and economic barriers to the further development and accelerated commercial deployment of bioenergy technologies for the widespread sustainable exploitation of biomass resources. As an industry-led stakeholder forum, the ETIP Bioenergy has the role to represent the unbiased, united, and consolidated view of the biofuels and bioenergy industry in Europe.

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INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY PROGRESS Lars Waldheim, Waldheim Consulting, Chair of WG2-Conversion of ETIP-Bioenergy Francisco GĂ­rio, LNEG, Bioenergy Unit, Vice-Chair of WG2-Conversion of ETIP-Bioenergy

Emerging new biofuels obtained from sustainable biomass either from biochemical-based pathways or thermochemical-based pathways are at advanced stage of development and new investments in Europe will be boosted by the new legislative EU framework for the next 10 years.


hallenges connected to biomass logistics, trade and end-use can be overcome by upgrading to standardized and more energy-dense bioenergy carriers. Technologies like pelletization, torrefaction (solid products) and pyrolysis (bio-oils) can play a significant role in this respect. Such energy carriers can facilitate the conversion of fossil plants to biomass on large scale, thereby also contributing to the grid stability in view of the increase of variable RE power production. This increase in the availability of RE power also opens up for hybrid plants using RES power to produce hydrogen for use in other biofuels plant or for the conversion of CO2 stream

to biofuels or renewable fuels, depending on the source of the CO2. Both thermochemical and biochemical conversion routes will be deployed in the coming decade to produce biofuels directly such as ethanol, methanol and FT-diesel. Also, thermochemically-produced intermediates such as bio-oils will be produced by processes like pyrolysis and, regarding high-moisture content feedstocks, by hydrothermal liquefaction. Such intermediates will predominantly be converted to drop-in biofuels by refinery-like processes, either as an integrated biofuel value chain or as a co-feed to a fossil refinery value chain. Key innovations on bioenergy for the next 10 years are expected to occur

Key innovations on bioenergy for the next 10 years are expected to occur both by evolution of technologies now being demonstrated or piloted and by development of new technologies that will in some years possibly reach such a stage. 30 Be

both by evolution of technologies now being demonstrated or piloted and by development of new technologies that will in some years possibly reach such a stage. Some recent technological progress on bioenergy and biofuels are described in the next sections, aligned with European Technological and Innovation Platform on Bioenergy (ETIP-Bioenergy) current value chains for advanced biofuels and heat and power (Fig. 1). IMPROVING CURRENT BIOENERGY: FROM 1ST TO 4TH VALUE CHAIN BY MEANS OF GASIFICATION AND THERMOCHEMICAL PROCESSES. The gasification technologies, i.e. where the dried biomass feed is converted to a gas at temperatures of 800-1,500°C at pressures between 0.1 and 4 MPa, have had difficulties to come to the first industrial plants, e.g. the large projects (100-200 MW of products) proposed in the EU as a part of the NER 300 program despite several pilot developments have been or are operated. Instead, there are some more modest capacity plants in operation commissioning.

The GoBiGas plant in Gothenburg with an output of 20 MW biomethane based on a Topsoe process, has recently reached its nominal capacity after debottlenecking the gas cleaning trains. It has also succeeded in raising the longest uninterrupted run from around 1,500 hours on several occasions to 1,800 hours. Unfortunately, the plant will be soon mothballed because of economic reasons. Other developments in the production of bio-methane by the gasification route is the 4-MW plant from GoGreenGas, now under construction in the UK. This plant is an industrial demonstration for the APP plasma gasification technology using RDF as the fuel, the gas being fed to the AMEC Foster Wheeler VESTA methanation. There is also a planned industrial project in the Netherlands, Ambigo, featuring the Milena gasification, OLGA tar removal and ESME membrane synthesis processes, and where the final investment decision is pending. This project will have a capacity of 4 MW of bio-methane too. The Enerkem RDF gasification plant in Edmonton Canada has had the last methanol-to ethanol stage installed in 2017 and can now produce 38,000 m3 of ethanol or an equivalent volume as methanol. A study is being made with i.a. Akzo Nobel for a plant with over five times the above capacity for the port of Rotterdam. In addition, the RDF Fulcrum Bioenergy plant in Nevada and Red Rock Biofuels woody biomass plant in Oregon both were successful in securing financing during late 2017, after the Department of Defense funding in 2014. These plants will be producing 40 million litres and 57 million litres, respectively, of dropin hydrocarbon biofuels via the FT process. Concerning pyrolysis technology, i.e. the conversion of biomass to pyrolysis oil, char and gases at

Fig. 1 – Current value chains of ETIP-Bioenergy Strategic and Research and Innovation Agenda.

450-550 °C, the Fortum plant at Joensuu and the Empyro plant in the Netherlands both have started operation. These oils are primarily used as substitutes for fuel oil, but there has been a limited number of pilot scale tests of the upgrading of such oils to drop-in biofuels. Current developments are related to hydrocatalytic and catalytic pyrolysis at pilot scale to obtain a bio-oil intermediate with less oxygen than by the conventional fast pyrolysis process. In recent years, hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), which is a technology operating at 250-350 °C and pressures high enough to maintain the solvent, mostly water, in liquid phase (20-35 MPa), has

advanced. A demo plant is being planned in Norway by Silva Green Fuels and in Canada by Canfor using forest and pulping residues by means of the Steeper and Licella technologies, respectively. As far as it concerns electricity production, nowadays there are numerous installations to produce power and heat from biomass at a small scale (e.g. 0.01-5 MWe). These plants use gasifiers in combination with internal combustion engines at efficiencies higher than obtained from steam cycles at a comparable scale. Higher power efficiency approaching larger power plants requires that state-of-the-art gas engines is replaced with fuels cells or some other innovations. 31 Be

However, the heat being generated need to be utilized to obtain a high total efficiency. The integration of biomass gasification with biogas or solar and wind power (RES-Hybrids) offers interesting alternatives for production of renewable energy at farm and village scale, in both rural and agricultural areas of Europe. Gasification followed by various forms of gas cleaning can also be applied to generate clean gaseous fuels from low-grade fuels such as different wastes and straw. Removing gas contaminants prior to combustion either minimizes corrosion and deposition in boilers or makes the gas more suitable for industrial furnaces. The commercialization of gasification systems for larger scale power generation has been slow and promising technologies, such as biomass integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), have not found their way to the market. THE BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL APPROACH. These three biomass value chains comprise a range of biological/ biochemical based technologies towards production of alcohols, hydrocarbons or fatty acids from biomass, both lignocellulosic or aquatic biomass (e.g., algae). The value chain of cellulosic ethanol production implies fractionation and hydrolysis of the biomass to sugars and lignin, followed by the fermentation of the sugars to ethanol. This technique is being used in a handful

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of plants (Biochemtex, Poet/ DSM, RaĂ­zen, GranBio, etc.) at industrial scale (40-110 million liters per year), but also other developers are trying to come to this milestone. Such first industrial plants, having solved some technological problems associated with e.g. biomass feeding and pre-treatment, are paving the way to reach an industrially mature biochemical value chain for wider deployment. However, in addition to technical issues and low energy prices, some of the first-of-its-kind plants have also been subject to collateral damage from financial problems or strategic changes in the parent entities (e.g., M&G groupBiochemtex, DuPont, Abengoa). The production of higher alcohols, e.g., iso-butanol or butanol, has advantages over ethanol. Their energy content is higher than that of ethanol and closer to that of gasoline and, more importantly, it has no compatibility, miscibility or material problems. The US company Gevo Inc., was the first investor to build a pilot machinery for iso-butanol plant at Luverne, Minnesota, USA using a recombinant yeast strain. Butamax, which is a joint venture between BP and Dupont, have also developed a similar technology at pilot scale in the UK. Some technologies developed to convert alcohols to hydrocarbons have reached pilot scale and this conversion pathway has overall won acceptance for hydrocarbons production for blending into jet fuel. Moving from the ethanol or higher alcohols value chain to

hydrocarbons via biological pathways, Global Bioenergies is the only European-based company that has a fermentation process for converting sucrose directly into hydrocarbons. It is currently operating a 100 tonnes per year demonstration plant in Dresden (Germany) after successfully developed its engineered yeast strain in a pilot plant in France. Their objective is to operate a bio-isobutene plant of 50,000 tonnes in 2018. Isobutene is a key compound for ETBE production and up to now it has been only available from fossil origin. It can also be chemically converted in isooctane and isododecane, which are gasoline additives too. Global Bioenergies have already produced a significant batch sample of such fuels for testing by Audi. Outside of Europe, other biochemical pathways for the sugarto-hydrocarbon pathways are being pursued. DSM has a production plant in Brazil, formerly owned by Amyris, where farnesene can be produced among a range of other non-fuel products. This component can be blended into jet fuel at a rate of 10% after hydrogenation to farnesane. However, Amyris technology is still based on sugars from crops (e.g., sugarcane) and it has not been not tested on lignocellulosic sugars yet. The last value chain to address here is the use of light and CO2 for production of energy carriers and upgrading them for biofuels. In spite

of intense effort in R&D in algae in recent years, the development and the transition to the desired scale of demonstration have not been so accelerated as expected in Europe and worldwide. The main EU microalgae for energy project is the ALL-GAS project, located in Southern Spain (Chiclana de la Frontera). The Prototype plant is in continuous operation since September 2014. It comprises 1,000 m2 cultivation area plus around 200 m2 downstream processes such as harvesting, anaerobic digesters, biogas upgrading, dewatering and biomass boiler. The Demo plant, which has almost 3 hectares of microalgae cultivation, started the operation in 2017. It aims at demonstrating sustainable biomethane production from microalgae biomass grown on wastewaters fed into open raceways ponds at large scale. Concerning the use of algae for sugar (macroalgae) or oil (microalgae) production, only the latter one has some pilot facilities in EU (e.g., Buggypower, Porto Santo; Camporosso, Italy) but none of them is actively focused on bioenergy. To date, the number of demonstration facilities to produce bioenergy vectors from micro and macro-algae, solar radiation and CO2 as well as for upgrading biofuels for carrier sector use is limited worldwide and the available data are scarce. OTHER TECHNOLOGIES IN DEVELOPMENT The rapid build-up of RE power capacity and the associated reduction in cost has generated an interest for using energy to produce hydrogen from electrolysis. Such component can later be used as a bio-fuel, as a co-feedstock in the production of other biofuels by thermochemical pathways or for chemical conversion of e.g. alcohols of lipids or even to recycle CO2 captured from industrial process by conversion to fuels like methane or

One interesting and challenging technology is to harness solar energy by bio-solar cell factories (BSCF). methanol. The latter technology, named power-to-gas or power-toliquids (PtG, PtL) is being tested at pilot scale. Many technological options for novel biofuels are being studied at laboratory scale. One interesting and challenging technology is to harness solar energy by biosolar cell factories (BSCF). By this technique, phototrophic microorganisms (e.g. cyanobacteria, eukaryotic algae) directly catalyze the conversion of CO2 and H2O into oxygen and chemical energy (e.g., fuel) in a CO2-neutral way and they bypass the production of a biomass intermediate. Another ap­ proach for the future is the use of extremophiles microorgani­sms that could be engineered as bio-solar cell factories, since their ability to grow at extreme conditions (high temperature, high saline, high/low pH values) minimizes the risk of microbial contaminations at open ponds as well as in closed unsterile photobioreactors. Direct solar energy can also be utilized in many alternative ways to provide the required process heat for thermochemical conversion processes. These systems were studied and evaluated in detail already in the 1980s, but only now interesting applications are reported in development of renewable fuels from solar energy. Such implementations reach an energy conversion efficiency of 18%, defined as the ratio of the heating value of the syngas being produced to the solar radiative energy input and the heating value of the feedstock. THE COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS AS A KEY FEATURE TO BIOENERGY DEVELOPMENT. As indicated above, there is a variety of technologies utilizing biomass

to produce bio-fuels and other energy carriers, and which are at different technology readiness levels. However, while promising R&D at laboratory scale can often reach validation or pilot stage rather easily, it becomes increasingly difficult and time-consuming to reach the demonstration phase and first industrial plant. Often, main barriers to take-up of new high-efficiency technologies have been of an economic nature. There is therefore a strong need to continue to support demonstration activities to come to industrial scale. Especially the balance between risk and benefits of the first demonstration and flagship plants is very challenging. Despite long-term incentives such as feed-in-tariffs, tradable certificates or carbon taxation etc., there is the necessity to go from flagships to a wider deployment. The main cost drivers in biofuel and bioenergy conversion systems are the feedstock cost and the capital related cost, while the main benefit is the GHG reduction. Since, overall, biomass resources are limited, optimization calls for allowing the use of a variety of feedstocks including low cost, low quality materials in cost-efficient plants. This becomes a trade-off between the cost of the installation and the biomass conversion efficiency together with the greenhouse-gas emissions. There is therefore a need for a market mechanism to prioritize the importance of GHG savings to compensate for the most often higher cost of biofuels relative to fossil fuels. But, in this context one should also acknowledge that there are also other and wider benefits and creating income for all the stakeholders of the entire value chain from field or forest to ready-for-use fuels. 33 Be

LOW TRL BIOFUEL TECHNOLOGIES Dina Bacovsky, Andrea Sonnleitner, Bioenergy 2020+ There are many technologies for the conversion of cellulosic biomass and other residues which are under development and research: this scientific know-how is not yet widely known but it would be more than worthy of attention.


Transport biofuels offer the opportunity to reduce GHG emissions in the transport sector, to diversify the sources of energy carriers, to reduce the energy import bill and to support regional development. They can be produced from a multitude of biomass feedstocks, by applying various conversion routes and by substituting either gasoline, diesel or natural gas. Well-established biofuels include biodiesel (FAME), sugar or starch-based ethanol and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO). However, these “conventional” biofuels are based on biomass that could alternatively be used for

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food or feed production, and due to sustainability considerations public support has shifted towards “advanced” biofuels being produced from non-food/feed biomass. Technologies for the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass (such as forestry and agricultural residues) and other wastes and residues are not yet technologically mature and cost competitive. A large number of different technologies are under research and development at different Technology Readiness Levels. While those at TRL 7-9 are well-known, other technologies at lower TRL levels would deserve more attention.

SYNTHETIC LIQUID FUELS FROM BIOMASS VIA GASIFICATION Various technologies are based on the gasification of lignocellulosic feedstock and further conversion of the synthesis gas to useful products. While the production of biomethane has already been demonstrated at semi-industrial scale (GoBiGas project), the production of FT-liquids is currently being demonstrated at a production rate of 1 barrel per day, and mixed alcohols are at pilot scale. Another technology, combining gasification, Fischer Tropsch synthesis and aqueous phase

reforming is under investigation by the project Heat-to-Fuel. Adapting the gasification process conditions to produce a tar free gaseous intermediate is of high importance for the subsequent liquid fuel synthesis and is being investigated within the project BECOOL. The microbial fermentation of syngas for the production of alcohol is part of the scope of the project AMBITION. PYROLYSIS TECHNOLOGIES The production of pyrolysis oil has been known for quite a while, but stabilizing the oil and further processing it into diesel substitute is still a challenge. Current research includes investigations of further processing pyrolysis oil within fossil oil refineries and co-firing it in coal-fired CHPs. One example of a research project that combines pyrolysis, catalytic reforming and hydrodeoxygenation in one facility is the project To-Syn-Fuel. HYDROCARBONS FROM CELLULOSIC SUGARS Sugars obtained from the processing of lignocellulosic biomass can be converted to a range of different hydrocarbons which are suitable for blending with diesel and gasoline or even for a further processing into bio-kerosene. The

Figure 1 - Image taken from project website of To-syn-fuel ( it describes the Thermo-catalytic reforming (TCRÂŽ) converting a broad range of residual biomass into H2-rich synthesis gas, biochar and liquid bio-oil.

sugars can either be processed via microbial fermentation using engineered yeasts (Amyris firstof-its-kind commercial plant in Brazil producing farnesene), or through aqueous phase reforming APR (Virent demonstration plant producing renewable diesel). Both pathways provide chemical intermediates that can be processed into a wide range of chemicals and fuels. POWER-TO-FUEL TECHNOLOGIES More recently, interest has risen in the utilization of excess renewable electricity to produce

hydrogen via electrolysis and in the subsequent further processing into liquid or gaseous transport fuels. Technologies that combine this renewable hydrogen with a carbon source include synthesis of methanol from captured carbon dioxide using surplus electricity such as project MefCO2, and the e-crude production pathways of Sunfire. ETIP BIOENERGY WORKSHOP ON LOW TRL BIOFUEL TECHNOLOGIES The low TRL technologies described above cover only a minor part of the ongoing research. The sector is wide, and a vast number

Figure 2 - Image taken from MefCO2 project website ( it shows the technology producing biofuels from excess renewable electricity.

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of R&D projects aim to further develop new biofuel production technologies. Both public funding and support and private financing will be required to reduce costs and to improve performance of renewable fuels regarding efficiency, the environment and society. An overview of European pilot and demo facilities is available online at the ETIP Bioenergy website ( databases/production-facilities). ETIP Bioenergy will present several low TRL biofuel technologies during a workshop taking place on 4th June in Brussels, combined with offering opportunities for B2B (Business to Business) matchmaking.

Figure 3: The list and map illustrate a wide range of demonstration facilities related to advanced biofuels and intermediate bioenergy carriers production: filters allow to search through data that have been collected in a collaborative effort of ETIP Bioenergy Steering Committee and Working Groups, several IEA Bioenergy Tasks (Task n. 33 and 34), companies and experts.

Find out more about the event at

TECHNOLOGY READINESS LEVEL (TRL) As a concept originally developed by NASA in 1974, it is currently utilized by NASA, United States Department of Defence, European Space Agency and European Commission (e.g. Horizon Working Programme 2018-2020). It stands for a systematic measurement system to assess the maturity of a technology and to guarantee the comparison between different types of technologies. Such method is set on a scale from 1 to 9 (1 being the lowest readiness level, while 9 being the highest one), pointing out whether a technology is still at an early-stage kind of development or it is ready to be commercialised.

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TRL 1-3 Research

1. basic principles observed 2. technology concept formulated 3. experimental proof of concept 4. technology validated in lab TRL 4-5 Pilot 5. technology validated in relevant environment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies) In terms of biofuel facilities, this typically means • facility, which does not operate continuously • facility not embedded into an entire material logistic chain; only the feasibility of selected technological steps is demonstrated • the product might not be marketed TRL 6-7 6. technology demonstrated in relevant environDemonstration ment (industrially relevant environment in the case of key enabling technologies) TRL 8 8. system complete and qualified First-of-a-kind In terms of biofuel facilities, this typically means commercial · facility operated under economical objectives · the product is being marketed demo TRL 9 9. Actual system proven in an operational and comFully petitive environment commercial This summary table defines each TRL stage. It is taken from Task 39 (Commercialising Conventional and Advanced Liquid Biofuels from Biomass) IEA Bioenergy demoplant website (http://demoplants.


BECOOL – Brazil-EU Cooperation for Development of Advanced Lignocellulosic Biofuels BECOOL aims at fostering the cooperation between EU and Brazil in the development of advanced biofuels, from sustainable agricultural value chains, based on lignocellulosic biomass. Project duration: 01/06/2017 – 31/05/2021.

MacroFuels – Developing the next generation Macro-Algae based biofuels for transportation MacroFuels aims to produce advanced biofuels from seaweed or macro-algae. Targeted biofuels are ethanol, butanol, furanics and biogas destined to heavy transport vehicles. Project duration: 01/01/2016 – 31/12/2019

AMBITION – Advanced biofuel production with energy system integration AMBITION is a transnational and integrated research which aims at developing a system flexibility by targeting specific aspects of the integration challenge, to create a bridge between two forms of energy carriers, e.g. biofuels and grid electricity. Project duration: 01/12/2016 – 30/11/2019.

ButaNext – Next Generation Bio-butanol The mission of ButaNext is to develop innovative techniques to optimise biobutanol production from wheat straw, Miscanthus and municipal solid waste. The project aims at overcoming the technical and economic constraints to the use of biobutanol as an advanced biofuel. Project duration: 01/05/2015 – 30/04/2018.

4refinery - Scenarios for integration of bio-liquids in existing REFINERY processes The project will develop and demonstrate the production of biofuels from efficient liquefaction mechanisms integrated with upgraded downstream (hydro)refining processes in order to achieve overall carbon yields of >45%. Project duration: 01/05/2017 – 30/04/2021.

BABET-REAL5 This project aims at developing an alternative solution for the production of second generation ethanol on a smaller industrial scale than the one of current ethanol plants. This kind of alternative solution will be suitable for many countries, rural areas and a large amount of feedstocks. Project duration: 01/02/2016 – 31/01/2020

Heat-to-Fuel – Biorefinery combining HTL and FT to convert wet and solid organic, industrial wastes into 2nd generation biofuels with highest efficiency Heat-to-Fuel is bringing the next generation of biofuel production technologies towards the de-carbonisation of the transportation sector. By combining an APR with a FT reactor it plans to achieve competitive prices and a higher quality level for biofuels, as well as for life-cycle GHG reductions, with consequent savings in increased energy production. Project duration: 01/09/2017 – 31/08/2021.

To-Syn-Fuel – the Demonstration of Waste Biomass to Synthetic Fuels and Green Hydrogen The aim of To-SYN-Fuel is to build, operate and demonstrate the production of Synthetic Fuels and Green Hydrogen from organic waste biomass, mainly sewage sludge. The renewable liquid fuels comply with European standards for gasoline and diesel. Project duration: 01/05/2017 – 30/04/2021. 37 Be

BIO4A: NEW H2020 PROJECT ON SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL IN EUROPE TAKES OFF BIO4A will demonstrate first large industrial-scale production and use of sustainable aviation fuel in Europe, and will investigate the potential of recovery of dry marginal land in Southern EU


new Horizon 2020 project will scale up the industrial production and the market uptake of sustainable aviation fuel, made from lipids, such as Used Cooking Oil. The project will also investigate Camelina, a droughtresistant non-food crop grown on recovered EU Mediterranean (MED) marginal lands. The produced sustainable aviation fuel, that will meet the conventional ASTM jet fuel standards, will be used by commercial airlines in regular passenger flights, thus contributing to achieve the EU’s goal for the decarbonization of the aviation sector. Coordinated by the Italian research

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organisation RE-CORD (Renewable Energy Consortium for Research and Demonstration) of the University of Florence, the four-year project BIO4A (Advanced Sustainable Biofuels for Aviation) will run until 2022 and will be carried out by an international highlevel partnership from France, The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium and Italy: TOTAL, SkyNRG, CENER (National Renewable Energy Centre of Spain), CCE (Camelina Company España), EC-JRC (European Commission - Joint Research Centre) and ETAFlorence Renewable Energies. In 2011 the EU launched the Biofuels FlightPath Initiative as a strategy to

promote the market development of sustainable aviation fuels, and set the very ambitious target of 2 Mt/y of aviation biofuels consumption in Europe by 2020. BIO4A will contribute to this strategy, demonstrating that sustainable aviation fuel industrial production capacity exists in the EU, in a biorefinery soon to be started-up in France (La Mède), with a production target of at least 5,000 tons of HEFA (Hydrotreated Esters and Fatty Acids) sustainable aviation fuel. The activities of BIO4A cover all steps of the value chain, from sourcing of sustainable feedstocks, to conversion into ASTMcertified sustainable aviation fuel, to blending and distribution to end-users

at various airports across Europe. The sustainable aviation fuel will be distributed through standard airport infrastructures for commercial flights operated by multiple European airlines. The project will analyse a series of business cases to design effective and attractive market strategies, for the market uptake of aviation biofuels, based on real trading experiences. BIO4A will also carry out extensive R&D work on recovering marginal lands in the Mediterranean regions at high risk of desertification, exploring the cultivation of Camelina, a crop suitable for dry MED areas, whose oil can be used for biojet production. By adopting a combination of biochar and other soil amendments, the research aims at developing a costeffective long-term strategy to increase the fertility of the soil and its resilience to climate change, while at the same time storing fixed carbon into the soil

and producing a low-ILUC biofuel from Camelina (as indicated in the EU Renewable Energy Directive II proposal). Scenarios for potential replication in the EU MED area will be modelled, together with a full life cycle and sustainability analysis. Prof. David Chiaramonti, RE-CORD, project coordinator says: Air transport is among the most critical ones to decarbonise, a priority for the European Union together with heavy duty and maritime. BIO4A is a significant step forward towards clean aviation in Europe: it will bring the use of sustainable biojet ahead in terms of volume and innovation. Moreover, the research on increasing resilience of EU MED dry marginal land to climate change will open a new window to sustainable biomass production in the EU Eline Schapers, Head of Supply and Operations at SkyNRG, world market leader in distribution and commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel, says: The Bio4A project is an important step in scaling-up commercial

production capacity for sustainable aviation fuel in Europe. We’re proud to be part of this project and are looking forward to setting up efficient and large-scale supply chains to further integrate sustainable aviation fuel use in Europe. About BIO4A Bio4A (Advanced Sustainable Biofuels for Aviation) is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It addresses the topic “Enabling precommercial production of advanced aviation biofuel” (LCE-20-2016-2017). Contact: David Chiaramonti

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flexJET project converts organic waste into sustainable aviation fuel HORIZON 2020 flexJET Project will validate a new integrated process to produce sustainable aviation fuel.


he innovative flexJET project is diversifying the feedstock for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) beyond vegetable oils and fats to biocrude oil produced from a wide range of organic waste. The process offers better economics and improved overall sustainability by processing waste feedstocks near the source and at a scale that matches the waste availability. This is the first technology ever to use green hydrogen from waste feedstock for refining thereby maximising greenhouse gas savings. This project provides clear technical

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and economic validation, by building a demonstration plant at pre-commercial scale to deliver high quality SAF. The flexJET project is delivering a blueprint for the production and distribution of this novel SAF technology. This will be a showcase of the medium to long-term impact on the aviation industry in Europe and beyond.

aviation fuel by combining regional and local supply and demand strategies in a circular economy. As a key factor to the decarbonisation of the aviation transport sector, it contributes to the Renewable Energy Directive Targets in Europe and to the fulfilment of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) goals.

The flexJET process is highly scalable and less capital-intensive than current technologies and can be integrated into existing infrastructure. It provides for a sustainable, cost-competitive

flexJET’s innovative process combines SABR technology from Green Fuels Research for the refining of biodiesel from organic waste fats with the TCRŽ technology from Susteen Technologies for the

production of biocrude oil from organic solid waste. The hydrogen for refining will be separated from syngas using a decentralised technology from Hygear. As a first step, non-food competing waste vegetable oils (cooking oils) will be transformed into SAF in line with existing standards (HEFA route – ASTM D7566, Annex 2). Using hydrogen from residual biomass conversion and renewable process energy enables a significant reduction in the remaining CO2 footprint of regular HEFA SAF. In the second step, SAF output will be increased by producing SAF through co-refining of organic waste fats with biocrude oil from food and market waste: the resulting novel SAF will be targeted for the ASTM approvals process.

About flexJET and Project Partners: The consortium brings together some of the most renowned scientific departments, applied research institutions, small and mediumsized enterprises in the renewable energy sector, particularly in terms of bioenergy studies and the development of relevant projects in Europe. Partners from 5 different European countries include: University of Birmingham (Project Coordinator), Sheffield University, , WRG Europe Ltd, Green Fuels Research Ltd (UK), University of Bologna, ETAFlorence Renewable Energies (Italy), Fraunhofer Umsicht, Susteen Technologies GmbH, BIGA Energie GmbH (Germany), Hygear BV, SkyNRG (The Netherlands)

and LEITAT (Spain). From 2018 until 2022, this conjoined effort will make use of the precious assistance of valuable experts in charge of advisors. flexJET project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 792216. Contacts: University of Birmingham Miloud Ouadi, Project Management Team ETA-Florence: Stefano Capaccioli Project Dissemination Team

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PROSPECTS FOR LIQUID BIOFUELS: MEETING THE CHALLENGE OF EVs AND LOW OIL PRICES Jeffrey Skeer, Rodrigo Leme, Francisco Boshell International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)


eliable, sustainable and affordable energy supply is critical to economic activity, social development and poverty reduction. But two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from energy production and use, which puts the energy sector at the core of efforts to combat climate change. In this context, the transition to less carbon intensive fuels in transport, including liquid biofuels, is fundamental. To meet the climate targets of Paris, we will need to reduce 2050 emissions to 10 GtCO2-eq/year – just a sixth of emissions projected with current 42 Be

policies and Nationally Determined Contributions. To do so, as reported to the G20, IRENA’s REmap model envisions 235 EJ of renewable energy use in 2050, with 44% for heat and other direct uses, 40% for power, and 16% for transport. In the REmap vision, roughly three-eighths of the renewable energy supply (37%) would be some form of bioenergy: 10% would be for bioenergy in buildings, 13% for bioenergy to provide industrial process heat, 11% in the form of liquid biofuels for transport, and 3% for power. The transport market for liquid biofuels is expected to persist

despite a growing trend towards electrification. As batteries provide greater energy density at lower cost, electric vehicles gain the range consumers desire and should soon cost less to buy and run than conventional vehicles. In Europe and other advanced industrial economies, most cars sold could thus well be electric by 2030, so that EVs dominate road transport by 2050. But in less developed economies where power grids are weaker, the transition will take much longer. And where biofuels based on domestic resources predominate, as in Brazil, EVs may not gain traction.

Moreover, for very heavy freight, marine shipping and especially aviation, electrification will likely remain impractical. So blending and other markets for biofuels will remain robust for decades. But how will we move to fully decarbonize the transport sector as combatting climate change requires? With increasing use of EVs alongside biofuel blending, demand for fossil fuels may be considerably curtailed. Meanwhile, shale oil supplies have been expanding faster than once anticipated. This means there could be significant downward pressure on oil prices. And if oil prices are low, how can biofuels like renewable jet fuel for aviation compete in the marketplace? This is an environmental challenge that needs to be addressed. PROJECTED COSTS OF BIOFUELS AND FOSSIL FUELS To better understand how big the challenge might be, it is helpful to project both biofuel and oil prices and compare them. As detailed in IRENA’s Innovation Outlook – Advanced Liquid Biofuels, technology learning and

With increasing use of EVs alongside biofuel blending, demand for fossil fuels may be considerably curtailed. Meanwhile, shale oil supplies have been expanding faster than once anticipated. This means there could be significant downward pressure on oil prices. And if oil prices are low, how can biofuels like renewable jet fuel for aviation compete in the marketplace? This is an environmental challenge that needs to be addressed. scale-up should reduce biofuel costs substantially. Total costs for advanced biofuels are shown as the sum of capital, feedstock and O&M costs in Figure 2. They are broken out for large and small plants, which differ in scale by roughly a factor of ten, for both the short-term (2015) and long-term (2045). Note that for cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel alike, long-term costs of large plants are less than half the short-term costs of small plants -showing the importance of both scale economies and technology improvement. For conventional biofuels, current costs can be taken from the literature (Iowa State University in the United States for maize ethanol and biodiesel, and Bioethanol Science and Technology National

Laboratory (CTBE) in Brazil for sugarcane ethanol) and assumed to decline in the long-term by 15% to 25% due to improved production and conversion efficiency. For the sake of comparison, the cost of fossil transport fuels (diesel and gasoline) can be estimated from crude oil price projections and their correlation with gasoline and diesel prices. Crude oil price projections can be found in the EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2017, which projects 2050 oil prices per barrel of US$117 in its reference case, $48 in a low oil price case, (with higher upstream investment by OPEC and lower OECD demand, which would be consistent with rapid penetration of electric vehicles and biofuels) and $241 in a high oil price case. The

Figure 1 – Bioenergy a Key Portion of Renewable Energy Supply

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correlation between oil prices (per barrel) and spot price FOB in NY of diesel and gasoline can then be assessed through regression analysis of five years of historical data obtained from Index Mundi. COMPARATIVE COSTS WITHOUT A CARBON VALUE Biofuels face difficult competition from their fossil counterparts at current world oil prices, as shown in Figure 3. Even conventional biofuels, which have made significant inroads in markets like Brazil, Europe and the United States, struggle to compete with gasoline and diesel at recent world oil prices as low as $40 to $50 per barrel. Advanced biofuels face an even tougher situation, given their much higher production costs with currently available technology. The cost of advanced biofuels is shown as a range to reflect the impact of different plant scales on cost estimates. The lower bound refers to large-scale plants and the upper-bound to small-scale plants. But as oil prices have recovered to levels more like $70 per barrel in early 2018, the situation may not be so dire. In the long-term, while learning effects will bring down the costs of biofuels considerably, their competitive position will largely depend on how oil prices evolve, as shown in figure 4. If the high-oil price scenario materialised (upper bound of the fossil fuel cost bars), biofuels would compete with ease. In the reference oil price case (midvalue of the fossil cost bars where light and dark gray meet), biofuels still compete quite well, with advanced biofuels costing about the same as fossil fuels and conventional biofuels costing much less. But in the low-cost oil price scenario (lower bound of the fossil cost bars), fossil fuels would clearly remain cheaper.

Figure 2 – Unit costs of biofuels (USD/GJ-fuel)

Figure 3 – Comparison of Fuel Costs at Current Oil Price (USD/GJ)

Figure 4 – Comparison of Fuel Costs in the Long-Term (USD/GJ)

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and fermentation, or cellulosic biodiesel via FT synthesis – just a quarter. The estimated feedstock emissions arise from cultivation (shown in green), processing (gold) and transport (red).

Figure 5 – Carbon Intensity of Selected Bioenergy Pathways (gCO2/MJ)

Figure 6 – Long-Term Fuel Costs with Carbon Value of US$80/tCO2-eq (USD/GJ)

CARBON ADVANTAGES OF SUSTAINABLE BIOFUELS To what extent might the competitive position of biofuels be improved by a market value for carbon? Carbon emissions can be sharply reduced by shifting to liquid biofuels if they are produced from sustainable feedstocks on existing farm land or existing managed forest, as they then induce no emissions through land-use change. The typical carbon intensities of biofuels and their fossil fuel counterparts are then as shown in Figure 5, based on analysis commissioned by IRENA

at PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. (Emissions will vary depending on the location, feedstock type and quality, crop yields, fertilizer use, process efficiency, transport distances, fuels used in processing and transport, and allocation of emissions between fuel and co-products.) While fossil fuels emit over 80 g CO2/MJ, sustainably sourced conventional biofuels typically emit much less – maize ethanol less than half as much, sugarcane ethanol less than a third. And sustainable advanced biofuels – cellulosic ethanol via hydrolysis

COMPARATIVE COSTS WITH CARBON VALUES INTERNALISED The incentive provided by a price on carbon would reinforce the market position of conventional biofuels and provide a firmer competitive basis for advanced biofuels, as shown in Figure 6. Globally, IRENA estimates that the carbon price in 2050 might rise as high as $80/tCO2. If it does, conventional biofuels (orange bars) compete well with fossil fuels even with low oil prices (bottom of light gray bars), and advanced biofuels can also compete with reference case oil prices (meeting of light and dark gray bars). POLICY SUPPORT FOR THE LIQUID BIOFUELS WE NEED Electrification of light vehicle fleets, combined with plentiful oil supplies, may keep oil prices weak. So it may be hard for biofuels to compete with their fossil fuel counterparts in conventional economic terms. Yet biofuels are essential to decarbonizing energy use in heavy freight and marine transport and aviation. Therefore, it is important that the environmental value of reducing carbon emissions be recognised in the marketplace. And if it proves politically impossible to allow a carbon price high enough to counteract weak oil prices, it may be further necessary to require a growing share of renewable jet fuel over time, with mandated volumes. It could also make sense to limit fuel use per passenger-km and freightkm to speed improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency.

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INSPIRE: INSIGHTS ON BIOFUELS INNOVATION FROM IRENA’S PATENTS DATABASE Alessandra Salgado, Francisco Boshell, Jeffrey Skeer, Rodrigo Leme International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)


nnovation is at the heart of the energy transition to a carbonfree world. Breakthroughs in renewable energy technologies have accelerated their deployment by reducing their costs and improving their performance. Technology breakthroughs can be reflected in patent filings, so IRENA has developed a database of INternational Standards and Patents In Renewable Energy (INSPIRE) to track them. The patterns of patent filing over time offer interesting 46 Be

insights into where renewable for biofuels in aviation, marine energy technologies, including shipping and heavy freight transport, biofuel technologies, are headed. which together represent nearly a third of transport fuel demand, to Liquid biofuels and biomethane decarbonize the global economy and accounted for just 4% of in total limit global temperature rise. Liquid renewable energy supplied in 2015. biofuel demand could expand about But the share could nearly triple to 7-fold to some 900 billion litres 11% by 2050 if cost-effective options per annum by 2050. Nearly half of identified in IRENA’s Renewable this total amount could come from Energy Roadmap, REmap, are put advanced processes for conversion in place. Even with anticipated of cellulosic feedstocks, which electrification of passenger vehicle supply just 1% of biofuels today. fleets, there will be an urgent need Continuous innovation in biofuels

production will thus be essential. Of the more than half a million patents in renewable energy that have been filed to date, 15% are for bioenergy and 9% specifically for biofuels. Using the patent classification developed by the European Patent Office (EPO), INSPIRE indicates which types of biofuel technology have the most patent activity. As shown in Figure 1, the bulk of patents have been filed for grain bio-ethanol, cellulosic bio-ethanol, bio-diesel, and biopyrolysis. Globally, just under a third of patent filings could be said to relate mainly to conversion of lignocellulosic feedstocks, summing cellulosic ethanol (19%, in light blue colour in Figure 1) and bio-pyrolysis (13%, in sky blue). Patent filings related to the chief conventional biofuels, grain bioethanol (23%, in olive) and biodiesel (19%, in tan) sum to over two-fifths of the total. Europe (EU-28), China, Japan and the United States are the front runners in biofuels patent activity. They all have diversified portfolios, but each has a somewhat different emphasis. The United States has given greater weight to bioethanol, both grain-based and cellulosic. China, in contrast, has placed more emphasis on biodiesel and biopyrolysis. Europe has focused more on conventional biofuels, namely grain bioethanol and bio-diesel. As shown in Figure 2, biofuel patent filings peaked in 2011. Filings for cellulosic bioethanol, biodiesel and grain bioethanol grew more than 10% per annum in the decade from 2000. Patent filings for torrefaction of biomass grew fastest, with an annual growth rate of 26%, but remain small in absolute terms. Filings related to heat and power production from biofuels (CHP and gas turbines for biofeed) grew more slowly. Since the peak, a drop in the patents filings can be observed. This may be linked to the recent

Figure 1: Biofuel Patent Filing Shares - Source: based on

sharp decline in biofuel investment, from $25 billion in 2007 to $5 billion in 2013. Investment and market growth spurs technology research and development, so with less investment, it is reasonable to expect fewer patents. Different organisations and individuals lead biofuels innovation. Getting familiar with the work and initiatives from these top runners

is key, as early collaboration and knowledge sharing can support inventors and organizations that just initiated research and development work in biofuels. IRENA analysis has shown that patents filing is not exclusive to major organizations but also engages multiple small and medium-sized actors. Most countries engaged in biofuel technology development are also 47 Be

Figure 2a: Annual Biofuel Patent Filings by Type (Source: based on

Grain bio-ethanol

Cellulosic bio-ethanol



Figure 2b: Annual Biofuel Patent Filings for the Top Four Types Source: based on Note: The last four years are not shown due to lag in the data between the patent applications and patent approvals.

major biofuel producers, as shown in figure 3. The countries with the most patent filings are the United States, China, Europe (EU-28), Japan, Canada and Brazil. Within Europe, Germany filed the most patents, followed by Spain, France and Italy. The countries with the most biofuels production are the United States, Europe, Brazil and China.

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But innovation and production do not always occur in the same place. A great deal of patent activity is happening in countries that have no biofuels production, like Japan and Russia. Canada also has much more patent activity than its biofuels production might lead one to expect. In the other direction, there is little patent activity in some countries with high biofuel production such as Thailand and Indonesia. So, while patent and innovation

activity is key to understanding technology development, it does not fully explain technology deployment. For example, information concerning licensing of technology patents, which could indicate potential deployment markets, is not publicly available. The lag between technology development and deployment is also difficult to estimate and needs to be

A great deal of patent activity is happening in countries that have no biofuels production

Figure 3a: Countries with the Most Biofuel Patents Filed (Cumulative Filings by 2013) Source: Based on

better understood. This is illustrated by the case of cellulosic bio-ethanol, a leading pathway for advanced biofuels production. It led in annual patent filing between 2005 and 2011, with an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 65%. However, in terms of deployment it still accounts for less than 1% of liquid biofuels produced globally. It is thus of paramount important for biofuels innovation to go beyond just technology RD&D to innovation in better business models and improved market regulation.

Figure 3b: Countries with the Most Biofuels Production (PJ in 2015) Source: Based on IEA data (summing bioethanol, biodiesel, biojet kerosene and biogas)

INSPIRE- International Standards and Patents in Renewable Energy Data and charts used in this article have been gathered using the webtool INSPIRE. INSPIRE is an online tool developed by IRENA to perform analysis on patents and technical standards in renewable energy, by using the different dashboards, and to create awareness of latest trends in innovative technologies for renewable energy. INSPIRE data is based on the Y02 classification for climate change mitigation technology patents of the European Patent Office. Access INSPIRE at: An online tutorial is available here: Access Y02 classification at:

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Shane Ward, University College Dublin


groCycle is a Sino-EU collaborative research and innovation venture on the application of the ‘circular economy’ across the agri-food industry. The project has 26 partners from across the EU, China and Hong Kong, and is funded through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, with additional funding from the governments of the People’s Republic of China. The project is led by University College Dublin (School of Biosystems and Food Engineering). The 36-month project (which started in June 2016) aims to reduce waste whilst also making best use of the

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‘wastes’ produced within the agri-food sector by delivering a protocol for the implementation of the ‘circular economy’. AgroCycle is working to further develop, demonstrate and validate novel processes, practices and products for the sustainable use of agricultural wastes in applications such as fertilisers, bio-polymers and novel chemicals as well as developing technology and policy guidelines for the bioeconomy. The project is addressing the valorisation of wastes from several agricultural sectors to reflect the Sino-EU consortium: wastes from wine, olive oil, horticulture, fruit, grassland, swine, dairy and poultry. The project

has been very busy over the last 22 months to achieve its objectives, the following work is just a quick overview of what is currently underway and what has been achieved: ASSESSING WASTE VALUE CHAINS This is the first work package of the project and has now been completed, however; as new data are being published, the reports will be updated again before the end of the project. So, what has ‘Assessing Waste Value Chains’ involved? • Quantifying, mapping, and characterising agricultural waste flows in Europe • Assessing value chain logistics

and current regulatory requirements • Reviewing sustainable extraction rates of crop residues Five reports were produced from the work carried out: 1. Database/Inventory of Agricultural Wastes, Co-products and By-products (AWCB) Value Chains. Due to the size of the report and data collected, the report has now been divided into four smaller reports on: Animal, Fruit, Cereal and Vegetable 2. Characterisation of AWCBs 3. Holistic Analysis of AWCB Chains and Logistics of AWCB Valorisation Systems 4. Report on the main agricultural value chains in China and corresponding regulations and 5. Report on EU Regulatory Framework for AWCB Management, Environmental and Potential Health Risks. BIOENERGY AND BIOFUELS Partners across Europe and China are collaborating on the investigation of different biofuels such as bioethanol, biobutonal, biogas, bio-oil and bioelectricity by using different valorisation processes and by also utilising different feedstocks. Through this research the following is currently underway: • Construction of ethanol and butanol production pilot plants • Installation of dry AD units in Ireland for poultry manure • Partners in the UK and China are working on the development of third generation microbial fuel cells to convert biodegradable materials present in waste into electricity BIOFERTILISER PRODUCTION The next work package for AgroCycle is that of evaluating the effectiveness of biofertilisers from waste materials e.g. • Lignosulfonates from pruning

wastes Digestate from AD treated manures • Natural fertilisers from rice bran Partners across the Consortium are hard at work and in the coming months will be publishing ‘Practical Guidelines for organic wastes as soil amendments and Organic Fertilisers’. An ‘Open Day’ will also be organised by our Project Partners CREA ( before the end of the project, so keep an eye out on the AgroCycle and CREA website for details. •

NOVEL CHEMICALS AND BIOPOLYMERS This spans two work packages including AgroCycle’s exploitation and treatment of agricultural wastewater and the valorisation of biowaste into high value products, such as: • Extraction of proteins, fibres and secondary plant metabolites (SPM) from horticultural waste streams e.g. potato pulp • Demonstration of the application of extracted biocompounds in nutraceuticals, active packa-

ging, adhesives and coating applications • Novel bio-adsorbents development and testing • Agro-industrial (nutritional) wastewater exploitation and treatment. LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT The aim of the LCA work package is to assess environmental and economic sustainability of the impacts arising from the other work packages within the project. The first step was drafting an LCA Framework, defining a hierarchal approach dependent on the TRL of the target product, process or service. The next step was to identify candidates for the LCA Technical Work Package Case Studies (four in total). The four identified case studies (draft/interim versions are now available on the AgroCycle website) are: 1. Poultry litter valorisation through micro anaerobic digestion to produce biogas; 2. Valorisation of rice bran through composting to produce fertiliser;

AgroCycle map

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3. Fruit processing waste valorisation through hybrid anaerobic digestion to produce single cell protein and biogas; 4. Valorisation of potato pulp to produce bioplastic Under this work package, a Biomass Supply Chain Evaluation was also carried out, to fully characterise the available AWCBs and their current management systems, followed by in-depth characterisation of the value chain for each of the 4 selected AgroCycle technologies. BUSINESS MODELS + POLICY + LEARNING AgroCycle, in its endeavour to access all aspect of the application of the ‘circular economy’ across the agri-food industry, is also carrying out research into the development of: • Sustainable value chains and new models for sustainable business diversification across the agricultural sector in Europe • Mapping out potential markets in Europe and China for agri-food wastes

A Joint Stakeholder Platform for knowledge/data sharing for actors in the agri-food circular economy Training and educational activities to provide in-depth opportunities for transfer knowledge via classroom learning, with dedicated lesson plans and online resources for teachers, via ‘AgroCycle-Kids’

It has been a busy few months with a lot more to follow. The project will be hosting joint events with projects such as AgriMax at ESOF 2018 in Toulouse in July. Another activity being jointly organised with AgroCycle’s Chinese Partners (China Agricultural University and Nanjing Tech University) and H2020 NoAW and its Chinese partners is a ‘Mission to China’ in October of this year. The event in China will be an equal mix of business, academic and research knowledge sharing and Chinese cultural exploration.

All these reports for freely available at @AgroCycle_EU

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovationprogramme under grant agreement No 690142

Energies, an Open Access Journal of Energy Research, Engineering and Policy Impact Factor: 2.262 (2016); 5-Year Impact Factor: 2.707 (2016) EUBCE 2018 14-18 May, 2018 Copenhagen, Denmark

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meet us at booth


For further information, please see here:


Aline Clalüna, Chamber of Agriculture Lower Saxony, Germany, Dr. Christiane Volkmann, FNR, Germany, Dr. Simon Kühner, SYNCOM R&D Consulting, Germany.


oday, Europe´s energy sector is facing rising demand, volatile prices and disruption to supply, all in the frame of great concern to reduce the environmental impact of energy production. To tackle these problems the European Commission has launched plans, which will ensure secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy for EU citizens and businesses. The aim of the Horizon 2020 financed project greenGain is to contribute to these plans by fostering the production of renewable energy from biomass deriving from landscape conservation and maintenance work (LCMW) (Figure 1). For this reason, the eight project

Figure 1: Illustration of the means the greenGain project fosters the production of renewable energy

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partners from Spain, Italy, Czech Republic and Germany regard technical, financial, legal, social and environmental aspects on the EUand regional level. A fundamental part of the greenGain project is the initiation and realisation of strategies to utilize biomass from LCMW in model regions of the four project countries. For this, the involvement of local stakeholders is vital, which was ensured by linking seven regions to the project either as associated partners, forming part of the consortium, or as external stakeholders committed with the project. In these regions, greenGain closely cooperates with local actors, who are responsible for LCMW and for the regional biomass residue management. Moreover, service providers, farmers and forest owners, their associations, NGOs, as well as energy providers and consumers contribute with their expertise to the project goals. PRODUCING RENEWABLE ENERGY WITH A BYPRODUCT The feedstock considered in greenGain derives from work, which is carried out in public interest with the primary objective of nature conservation and landscape management, but also safety and aesthetic aspects (e.g. from roadsides, public greens, waterways). Residues from plantations and harvesting an economically viable product are not considered as LCMW feedstock, unless such plantations form a typical and protected landscape picture (e.g. olive groves in Italy). The biomass can be woody, herbaceous or a mix of both and is 54 Be

characterised by a spatially scattered and seasonally fluctuating supply. In many cases, actors involved in the handling of this material encounter financial and technical constraints, uncertain responsibilities, unclear legal requirements and a general lack of information on the biomass (amount, type, etc.). Yet, with its energetic utilisation a by-product of regular and mandatory management of public areas contributes to local energy cycles and renewable energy production. Also selling this feedstock, or the thereof produced energy, is a possibility for financial compensation for maintenance costs. A number of EU regions already recognise LCMW biomass as a local renewable resource and perform activities to explore its chances and challenges. The typical utilisation technologies are composting, anaerobic digestion and combustion. However, the conversion of the feedstock to energy or an energy carrier is exceptional and the biomass is mostly composted. In all EU countries, the legal frameworks consider the energetic utilisation of biomass resources and provide different feed-in tariffs to support these types of energy source. In most countries the management and the use of biomass from maintenance work is part of the environmental and the waste management law. In this context, the declaration of biomass from LCMW as waste is a crucial barrier for its utilisation for energy generation. In Europe, there is no policy, law or finance tool which exclusively deals with this kind of material and its use for energy production.

INTEGRATING BIOMASS POTENTIALS IN EXHISTING SUPPLY CHAINS The utilisation of biomass from conservation and maintenance work asks for consideration of the unique landscape and vegetation and the corresponding management needs in a region of interest. In order to be able to fulfil the task presented in Figure 1, the Consortium of greenGain thus analysed the status quo of the existing LCMW types and the main biomass consumers on the example of the project regions. The biomass potentials of the different types where then assessed with expertise from local stakeholders and literature analysis. The results provide a quantifiable base for further promotion of LCMW material utilisation and the establishment of regionally adjusted production chains. Despite fundamentally different conditions in the analysed regions, none of the cases showed strong restricting factors hindering the implementation of the maintenance work. However, the thereby produced biomass is usually dispersed and its potential per unit of territory is much lower than biomass from agrarian or forestry areas (e.g. in the Spanish pilot regions up to 16 times more straw and stalk residues and 29 times more forestry residues). Still, even if it cannot constitute as main biomass source by itself, by using specific business models, the integration of the sustainably available LCMW material in other supply chains is realistic and it can become part of integrated logistical solutions. AVOIDING CO2 EMISSIONS Numerous thermochemical and biochemical technologies are available for the conversion of biomass into energy and fuel. The suitability of biomass as feedstock for a conversion process depends

upon its composition and heatingor calorific value. Figure 2 illustrates examples of biomass potentials of selected LCMW biomass types from the greenGain model regions and cumulative EU‐27 + Switzerland (shown on secondary x-axis). Note, the availability of technology does not guarantee the efficient feasibility of the entire process chain as the economy of scale is another deciding factor in need of consideration. An exemplary estimation was conducted of the greenhouse gas (GHG) avoidance due to the use of wood chips from the management of the characteristic hedge- and tree rows on banks in the German pilot region Friesland. The calculations are based on the process applied by a regional company for landscape management works, which markets about 15,000 m³ of such wood chips per year. The fuel is predominantly sold as quality chips for small heating systems. With wood fuel being CO2-neutral, most GHG-emissions occur during

KNOW AND HEED YOUR LOCAL SITUATION In order to optimize the use of LCMW resources for energy purposes each case requires a specific assessment. When attempting to implement a new or optimised production chain for LCMW biomass the following factors need consideration: • Local final consumers/ local demand and existing feedstock types up to 50 km distance from final consumer • Feedstock composition, conversion technologies, equipment availability and site conditions • Feedstock quality in terms of chip quality, ash and water content and potentials for improvement • Stakeholders of the local production chain and their lines of communication • Relevant administrative and management policies, possible institutional support • Environmental impacts through

the chip production processes after diversion from the formerly applied uses composting and traditional Easter bonfire. The approach excludes emissions from felling of trees and forwarding to a collection place, but is in line with the ECdirective for accounting of fuels from residues. The production and use of the respective 3,750 t/a wood chips results in a total GHG output of about 300 t/a CO2-equivalents. At a water content of 12.6% the lower heating value of 1 tonne wood chips is about 16 GJ, totalling to 60,000 GJ or 4,400 MWh per year. Assuming replacement of oil as fuel for central heating, this amount of wood chips substitutes 1,280 tonnes or 1.5 million litres of heating oil every year. Compared to the typical GHG-burden of 89.5 g CO2/MJ for oil based central heating, the use of these Frisian hedgerow management wood chips saves over 94 % of GHGemissions, a total avoidance of nearly 5,000 t CO2-equivalents.

1 GW

EU‐27+CH Roadside LCMW1

Spain Roadside LCMW1

Germany Roadside LCMW1

Friesland Woody LCMW

Trasimeno Olive plantations LCMW Týn nad Vltavou Grassy LCMW B. Aragón + Matarraña LCMW

Kněžice Grassy LCMW

Rotenburg Roadside LCMW

Kněžice Trees LCMW

Biomass potential (t/yr)

Synfuel plant

Woody LCMW Biomass

Rated energy capacity

Herbaceous LCMW Biomass Pellet mill, Torrefaction, Pyrolysis

100 10 Boiler (wood chips)

1 MW

Hydrothermal carbonisation (grass) AD/Biogas (grass)

Power plant

Combined heat&power (wood chips, pellets)

100 10 1kW

Fireplace (logs, pellets)

Boiler (logs, pellets)


Heat and power

Boiler fuel


Transport fuel

0.1 1 10 100 1,000 10,000 100,000 1,000,000 Feedstock demand (t/yr)

Figure 2: Relationship between typical capacity of conversion technologies and feedstock demand.

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the value chain Possible constraints through lack of public acceptance The market for energy utilisation of renewables to heat and power is in most countries currently not growing. This is mainly caused by the reduction of subsidy schemes and higher technical efforts needed for clean small scale combustion and fermentation. This consequently limits the increase of the share of LCMW material in the energy mix. Further, environmental effects and the socio economic behaviour of the local population can vary tremendously between supply chains and different case studies. However, as the main reason for maintenance work is not the generation of feedstock but conservation of landscape, safety of roads or park maintenance, which all need to be performed without alternative, the energetic utilisation of the thereof produced biomass can avoid GHG-emissions and reduce costs of operation by generating additional income. •

Bioeconomy Research Program Baden-Württemberg Baden-Württemberg´s leading universities and research institutes are working together in the focus areas: •

Sustainable and flexible value chains for Biogas in Baden-Württemberg

Lignocellulose as alternative resource platform for new materials and products

Integrated use of Microalgae for food and feed

Modeling the Bioeconomy

The network was founded to implement a systemic Bioeconomy strategy and to collaborate in training of graduate students. Please visit us at or contact our coordination office at

German Agricultural Society (DLG) Open network and the professional voice of agriculture, agribusiness and the food sector.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 646443. The sole responsibility of this publication lies with the author. The European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. For further information about the project:;

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Solid fuels


Solar, wind & energy storage

More information:

s ! t u 3D i s Vi oth bo at


Pippa Try, Aston University


he Biofuels Research Infrastructure for Sharing Knowledge (BRISK2) provides researchers with access to equipment and expertise across Europe, with funding from EU Horizon 2020. New and established biofuels researchers can take advantage of the range of research, networking and professional development opportunities presented by BRISK2, with a programme of transnational access and joint research activities, as well as summer schools, exhibitions and events. Transnational access with BRISK2 is ideal for early career researchers and industry professionals working with biomass and biofuels: both individual and team proposals are welcome. There are fifteen partners in the infrastructure, located in eleven European countries. Their collaboration forming the Biofuels Research Infrastructure makes equipment available for a range of processes, spanning biomass characterisation and pre-treatment to pyrolysis and gasification. The full list of 55 available installations is on the BRISK2 website, and includes pyrolysis at Aston University, ECN’s OLGA tar remover and MILENA gasifier, and biochemical conversion at LNEG among its facilities. Calls for proposals for transnational access are now open online. The length and timing of planned transnational access research visits should be negotiated directly with project partners.

BRISK2 has also recently announced the first BRISK2 Biofuels Summer School, taking place at CERTH Centre for Research and Technology, Hellas (Thessaloniki, Greece) from 20th to 22nd June 2018. A full three-day schedule is on offer to provide a firm grounding in the science and technologies of biomass and waste processing to produce biofuels. At the end of the summer school, course participants will have a clear understanding of the thermal, biological, catalytic and physical processes that are required to effectively and efficiently convert biomass and waste into valuable fuel. Sessions are led by BRISK2 experts from across the infrastructure, with interactive workshops, case studies, examples and discussions. There are 50 places available, allocated on a first come, first served basis. The summer school is free to attend, with lunch and refreshments included. Registration for this event is also now open on the BRISK2 website. BRISK2 follows in the footsteps of the first Biofuels Research Infrastructure for Sharing Knowledge, which ran from 2011 and 2015 and supported over 200 research visits across Europe. BRISK2 will run until 2022 with funding of nearly €10m from the European Horizon 2020 programme to fund transnational access with some joint research activities involving the project partners.

Project Co-ordinator, Andrew Martin of The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm said: “It is a pleasure to be a part of BRISK2, and I look forward to working with the consortium and welcoming researchers for Transnational Access. The exciting part of BRISK2 is the ability to offer Transnational Access to researchers both inside and outside Europe, making this project truly international.” As a core BRISK2 activity, the call for transnational access proposals is ongoing until 2022, with applications evaluated by a panel of independent assessors. Academic and industry biofuels researchers are invited to submit BRISK2 proposals to support their research via the BRISK2 website. BRISK2 will provide successful applicants with a grant of up to €1200 per individual or team for travel, accommodation and subsistence. BRISK2 has expanded to welcome applications for transnational access from around the world, not just from within the EU. Researchers working on biofuels or related projects, including thermochemical conversion, biorefinery and biochemical conversion can apply to BRISK2 facilities located outside of their current country of work or study. BRISK2 aims to provide hundreds more opportunities for biofuels research visits. Project Co-ordinator KTH is leading the project, with returning BRISK partners Aston University, ENEA, Bioenergy 2020+, 57 Be

ECN, TU Delft, CERTH, TU Graz and SINTEF. BRISK2 also has six new partners, including CENER, LNEG, VTT, Wageningen Research, KIT and Politecnico di Torino. The proposal process requires applicants to first identify the installation they would like to visit and contact the relevant project partner to discuss the viability of their proposal, before refining it under guidance and submitting it via the website. At the final stage, proposals will be assessed by an evaluation panel comprising two BRISK2 partners and two independent experts. The call for early 2019 research visits is open until October 2018. Prospective applicants should visit the BRISK2 website at to find the full rig list, partner contact information, application form, as well as the up to date evaluation panel schedule. Eligible applicants require a minimum Bachelor of Science (BSc) or equivalent in a relevant science or engineering discipline. Applications must be made to infrastructure partners outside that of the applicant’s current country of work. Priority will be given to applicants who do not normally have access to similar research facilities within their current country of work or study. Priority will also be given to first time applicants. The number of grants

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99 €10m EU Horizon 2020 project supports biofuels research across Europe until 2022 99 Renowned research organisations offer access to cutting edge biofuels technology and expertise 99 Proposals from biofuels researchers for transnational access and funding now welcome 99 Registrations for BRISK2’s Biofuels Summer School 2018 now open provided to non-EU applications is limited to 20% and eligibility is determined by the applicant’s current country of work or study. Alongside transnational access, BRISK2 project partners are also collaborating on joint research activities; investigating feedstock characterisation, developing advanced measurement techniques and system simulation tools, as well as researching innovative biorefining approaches. BRISK2 is also proud sponsor of the European Biomass Conference and Exhibition 2018 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, and will be presenting at the 12th ECCRIA Conference September 2018 in Cardiff, UK. To find out more about the BRISK2 programme of Transnational Access or Biofuels Summer School 2018, visit the project’s website or email Project Coordinator KTH at

The project partners are: Aston University (UK), CENER (Spain), KIT (Germany), KTH (Sweden), Bioenergy2020+ and Graz University of Technology (Austria), ENEA and Politecnico di Torino (Italy), Sintef (Norway), LNEG (Portugal), ECN, Delft University of Technology and Wageningen (Netherlands), CERTH (Greece) and VTT (Finland). Funded by Horizon 2020, Grant Agreement Number 731101, BRISK2 will improve the success of biofuels implementation by accelerating the development of expertise and knowledge, leading to new renewable energy developments across Europe. It will provide opportunities for continued international collaboration, support a culture of co-operation and further establish Europe as a global centre of excellence in biofuels.

Upcoming bioenergy events JUNE 2018 06-07

Expo Biogaz 2018

Strasbourg, France


Argus Biomass Asia 2018

Singapore, Singapore


International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

Omaha, USA


Pellet Forum

Gdansk, Poland


Waste, residues and advanced low carbon fuels

Shanghai, China



Johannesburg, South Africa

APBE 2018 – 7th Biomass Energy Exhibition

Guangzhou, China


Advanced Biofuels Conference

Gothenburg, Sweden


Asia Power Week 2018

Jakarta, Indonesia


National Biomethan Congress

Poznan, Poland


11th CO2 Utilisation Summit

Manchester, UK


REFAB – Revolution in Food and Biomass Production

Cologne, Germany


2nd Biomass Trade & BioEnergy Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa


USIPA 2018 Exporting Pellets Conference

Chicago, USA


Argus Biofuels 2018

London, UK


International Biomass Congress & Expo

Berlin, Germany


Environment and Energy 2018

Riga, Kipsala Latvia


Renexpo BiH

Sarajevo, BiH


European Biomass to Power 2018

Stockholm, Sweden


Shanghai International Exhibition on Heating and Heat Power Technology

Shanghai, China

AlgaEurope 2018

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Fuels of the Future 2019

Berlin, Germany

World Sustainable Energy Days

Wels, Austria

ACI’s 7th Annual Gasification Summit

Frankfurt, Germany

JULY 2018

AUGUST 2018 16-18 SEPTEMBER 2018



DECEMBER 2018 04-06 JANUARY 2019 21-22 FEBRUARY 2019 27/02-01/03 MARCH 2019 28-29



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