For one week Copenhagen hosted the global biomass community at the 21st European Biomass Conference and Exhibition. More than 1800attendees from 66 countries discussed the status and the future of biomass for energy, materials and further bioeconomy applications in 360 keynote, plenary, oral and 400 visual presentations. These figures, compared to last year, show an increase of 15% in total attendance and a 20% increase in exhibition space making the EU BC&E 2013 once again the most important and stimulating international key platforms in Europe for knowledge exchange on the latest scientific and industrial results, developments in policies and deployment in the biomass and bioenergy sector
“The bioeconomy offers a unique opportunity for growth and job creation through the use of knowledge in many fields such as clean energy and biotechnology”, said Anders Eldrup, Conference General Chairman speaking at the closing session of the conference.
“Maximizing the efficiency of utilization of our biomass resources is fundamental in order to achieve a sustainable bioeconomy”, stated David Baxter, Technical Programme Chairman of the conference while introducing the main highlights of the EU BC&E 2013.
Increasing Forest Carbon Stock
Forest carbon stock in the US and EU have increased over recent decades providing additional biomass resources. Furthermore, developments in traditional markets such as that of pulp and paper create more opportunities for bioenergy. The biomass potential is still largely untapped, however the actual availability of biomass feedstock might be much lower than the theoretical potential and some questions still remain open mainly concerning environmental sustainability.
Many advanced conversion processes are now in the stage of a large industrial demonstration phase or even an early commercial phase, i.e. 2nd generation biofuels, bio-oil from pyrolysis and torrefaction. Now that confidence to reach a commercial size has been achieved the main challenge is reducing costs factors. For this reason strong policy support at a European level will be crucial.
Background of the EU BC&E
For over 30 years now, the European Biomass Conference and Exhibition (European BC&E) has combined a very renowned international Scientific Conference with an Industry Exhibition. The European BC&E is held at different venues throughout Europe and ranks on top of the world’s leading events in the Biomass sector.
It provides an high-level scientific programme and parallel events which attract participants from a wide ranging background: Researchers, engineers, technologists, standards organisations, financing institutions and policy and decision makers.
Such a global exchange platform of current knowledge in turn attracts industrial exhibitors, making the conference events a significant tool for technology transfer and innovation.
This event is supported by European and international organizations such as the European Commission, UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Natural Sciences Sector, The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, DEA Danish Energy Agency, WCRE – the World Council for Renewable Energy, EUBIA – the European Biomass Industry Association, Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster, Danish Bioenergy Industries Association, INBIOM Innovation Network Biomass, City of Copenhagen, Wonderful Copenhagen and other organisations.
The Technical Programme is coordinated by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre.
The highlights choose by the organizers
TOPIC 1: BIOMASS RESOURCES
• Biomass potential is still largely untapped. However, the actual availability of biomass feedstock might be much lower than the theoretical potential and some questions still remain open mainly concerning environmental sustainability and how much biomass is technically available.
• The biomass supply in Denmark could be more than doubled by way of an intensification of agriculture and forestry.
• Agricultural residues show great potential (China 221 Mt, USA 180 Mt, Brazil 177 Mt and Europe 150 Mt). However, in order to maximize their potential it essential to maintain a healthy soil.
• Forest carbon stock in the US and EU have increased over recent decades providing additional biomass resources. Furthermore, developments in traditional markets such as that of pulp and paper create more opportunities for bioenergy.
• The macro-algae production in Europe is emerging. Neverthless its technological barriers and cost must not be underestimated.
• Grass deriving from permanent grasslands is growing in importance as feedstock.
• According to the EU Energy Roadmap 2050 in 2020 biomass production will increase from 118 Mtoe to 180 Mtoe and in 2050 up to 260-270 Mtoe (320 Mtoe in high RES scenario).
• The Wood Pellets Buyers initiative (IWPB) influences the need for a sustainability standard.
• Resource efficiency should help to achieve the 2020 targets.
• GIS data is important in biomass resource monitoring.
TOPIC 2: R&D ON BIOMASS CONVERSION TECHNOLOGIESFOR HEATING, ELECTRICITY AND CHEMICALS
• Many catalyst studies were presented showing the effects of H2S, tars, NH3.
• Combined thermochemical and biological process for nutrient recycling and heat utilisation.
• Predective models are essential. Among them i.e. the wood pyrolysis prediction turned out to be quite accurate.
• The integration of different cleaning steps into one step is becoming the solution for hot gas filters for biomass gasification.
• An increased number of testings of pyrolysis oil in different applications has been experienced.
• Solvents must be protected against degradation in pyrolysis and bio-oil properties.
• A continued development of processing and of a range of low qualitiy feedstocks.
• Two-stage combustion of small-scale wood stoves is quite new and will lead to better performance. But at which cost?
• 90% of phosphorus recovery from sewage sludge has been achieved.
• AD process monitoring and control is advancing.
TOPIC 3: R&D ON PROCESSES FOR SOLID, LIQUID AND GASEOUS FUELS AND CHEMICALS
• Many advanced conversion processes are now in the stage of a large industrial demonstration phase or even an early commercial phase, i.e. 2nd generation biofuels, bio-oil from pyrolysis and torrefaction of cereal straw.
• Bio-oil from hydrothermal liquefaction proves to be suitable for direct use in refineries.
• Efficient bio-SNG from thermal gasification has been achieved as well as success in hotgas cleaning – still some challenges remain with catalyst.
• Excess power utilisation in gasification to SNG: interesting use of electrolysis for storage (3CO.11.5).
• Pretreatments for ligno-cellulosic biomass for biochemical are progressing; large scale demonstration projects are being developed in the USA.
• An increase of 50% has been experienced in high conversion efficiency of combined C5 and C6 sugars.
TOPIC 4: INDUSTRIAL AND BUSINESS CONCEPTS
• The Carbona gasifier technology (Skive) has experienced a great increase and a promising link up with UPM in France is expected.
• The introduction of the active condensation in a biomass combustion plant by integrating a heat pump has a result of a 7-8 year payback time from annual energy savings.
• Green Jet fuel from cracked wax can be mixed up to 50% blend with fossil kerosene.
• Liquefied methane from biogas is now being produced and fitting the existing LNG infrastructure.
• Green chemistry and bio-based products from straw can be produced (with Chemtex’s Proesa technology); they can be competitive at ~$100 barrel of oil.
• Straw to ethanol INBICON process has been technically proved; however, economics in the EU are holding back its commercialisation.
• Chemrec DME production from pulp and paper residues has been proved and used in heavy duty engines.
• Bio-SNG is about to be commissioned at 20 MW scale GoBiGas Gasification Plant.
• Now that confidence to reach a commercial size (for advanced biofuels) has been achieved the main challenge is reducing costs factors. For this reason strong policy support at a European level will be crucial.
TOPIC 5: BIOMASS POLICIES, MARKETS AND SUSTAINABILITY
• The pellets market is growing; imports by the EU are in fact exceeding 4Mt/a.
• The Bavarian bioenergy programme is phasing out nuclear power and it is experiencing a rapid growth in PV and wind, biomass can be used as energy storage as well as for balancing power demand.
• Policy does not seem to be effective in sending clear message to local communities in South Europe.
• There is a need for standardisation to support the market and trade and for flexibility of feedstocks.
• The current CAP is not influencing the farmers’ decisions on energy crops. New CAP promoting energy crops that fit into crop rotations and provide “green payments” will be then needed as well as a more involvement by the farmers.
• The EC JRC has just released its carbon accounting report together with an N20 tool that can be downloaded on JRC’s website.
• Short roation willow coppices prove to be beneficial: 2% of agricultural land could provide all bioelectricity of the European Union.
• The cost of feedstock is holding back the exploitation of green jet fuel in the USA.
• We need to focus on further developing technolgies, not simply on quantifying the magnitude of GHG savings.
• China and India are rapidly developing plans for extensive biomass utilisation.
• In the United States vast areas of woody biomass which were previously used for pulp and paper represent nowdays a great potential for bioenergy.
• Maximizing the efficiency of utilization of our biomass resources is fundamental in order to achieve a sustainable bioeconomy.