Message from the 2024 Conference General Chair

From Linear to Circular

Guillaume Boissonnet
Director of Research at the CEA’s Institute for Energy Economics
EUBCE 2024 Conference General Chair

It is a great honour for me to welcome you in Marseille for the 32nd edition of the European Biomass Conference and Exhibition.

We planned to meet in 2020 but it was postponed! The situation in Europe and the world is not the same as it was 4 years ago. A number of events and changes have shown that we need stability and energy security.

On 11 December 2019, Ursula von der Leyen announced the European Green Deal. The COVID crisis forced Europe to accompany it with the “Next Generation EU” recovery plan. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the “Fit for 55” package was accompanied by the “RePowerEU” plan, which aims to save energy and diversify our supply at an affordable price. The “Farm to fork strategy”, the “Nature protection package”, the “law to fight global deforestation and forest degradation”, the “Net-Zero Industry Act”, the “Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism” and the “Refuel EU Aviation and Maritime” are just some of the Green Deal measures that have been put in place over the last four years.

And Carbon circularity and biomass are at the heart of all these legislative and regulatory mechanisms.

Remember: “carbon is not the enemy”. Carbon is present at every level of our societies, in food, materials, chemicals and energy. Our concern now is to close the carbon cycle that has been open for 150 years, with the use of fossil fuels. We should also remember that biomass is the only renewable carbon source that contains energy. It is therefore a key factor in achieving Europe’s climate goals.

We already know that the use of biomass is not the only answer. To become self-sufficient, Europe will need sobriety, efficiency, electrification, hydrogen and CO2 recycling. Biomass remains at the heart of our concerns because it is the link between the earth and mankind. Ecosystems must therefore be preserved. And to meet the challenge of defossilising our societies, we will need several pillars, which are the challenges ahead.

Scientific and technological challenges: Although the scientific and technical barriers have largely been overcome, there is still a long way to go. A large number of technologies are ready and available for several applications (heat, fuels, molecules and materials) and we now know how to produce them. But technologies need to be improved, living conditions need to be better understood, best practices need to be disseminated and the impacts and consequences of societal choices still need to be studied. The European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation, “Horizon Europe”, is an important tool for achieving this.