Plenary Sessions Preview

Preview by Dr. David Baxter
Former European Commission JRC
EUBCE Executive Committee Member

MONDAY 24 JUNE | 13:45

1. Plenary Session AP.1:
Building industrial capacity for advanced biofuels

You certainly noticed, that in this preview the invited presentation AP.1.2 is missing.
We will give you more detail in one of the next previews, when we’ve got the precise title confirmed.

TUESDAY 25 JUNE | 10:15

2. Plenary Session BP1:
Sustainability, Impacts and Policies.

There will be three oral presentations in this plenary session which focuses on sustainability and includes updating GHG emissions in the Renewables Directive II, environmental impact assessment in the move towards a green economy and sustainability with the inclusion of bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

The latest version of the Renewable Energy Directive 2018/2001 (REDII) sets the scene for a legal framework stretching to 2030 for the development of renewable energy across the whole breadth of the EU economy. Two annexes in the Directive provide typical and default greenhouse gas (GHG) emission values for liquid biofuels (Annex V) and for solid and gaseous biomass for power and heat production (Annex VI).

These emissions values are to be used across the bioenergy sector to calculate their GHG emissions savings. Along with the latest policy developments, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has provided proposals for the update of the GHG emissions for a broad range of relevant biofuels and bioenergy pathways. All updates and changes have been made for both the Annexes V and VI of the RED.

The speaker will present the main changes introduced regarding the input values, the new assumptions and the new pathways; ii) highlight the most relevant pathways from the market perspective; and iii) present a comparative analysis of the GHG emissions for most relevant pathways.

The second presentation will summarise achievements from the MIDAS project, “Marginal lands and industrial crops for the European bioeconomy: combining bio-based products, climate resilience and biodiversity through innovative agricultural value chains”. The MIDAS project aims to develop, evaluate and optimize sustainable low-ILUC feedstock by developing selected industrial crops and cropping systems on European marginal agricultural land in a climate-resilient and biodiversity-friendly manner. These feedstocks will support feasible bio-based value chains. In this framework, miscanthus, hemp, crambe and castor bean were the selected crops for the project, due to their to tolerance to marginal soils and potential for bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts production. The key objective of this work was to determine the local and site-specific environmental impacts associated with the cultivation of these crops in marginal soils.

The final presentation in this session focusses on the strategically important role played by biomass and biogenic CO2 in carbon dioxide removal (CDR). (Bio-based) CDR options are a current political issue with numerous contrary assumptions being assumed. The speaker will use own research results to provide concept and region-specific potentials of bio-based CDR options and then systematically identify trade-offs and synergies between different bio-based CDR options. For example, it can be shown that bio-based CDRs are urgently needed, but that there are also many local problems. Furthermore, novel modelling results can be used to support the implementation of bio-based CDR options, considering not only techno-economic aspects but also considering different barriers and obstacles which need to be removed for a regional energy landscape with bio-based CDR. The work described makes a crucial and comprehensive contribution to research as it allows analysis of a wide range of options for CO2removal through biomass and to support sustainable implementation of bio-based CDR options within biomass strategies and policies.

TUESDAY 25 JUNE | 13:45

3. Plenary Session BP.2:
Large-Scale Gasification and Biomethane Production

Gasification is a key process for the conversion of a range of feedstocks to useful intermediate products that can subsequently be used to build a variety of products.

The first presentation will provide an overview of current activities in the field on biomass and waste gasification, with the aim of producing either biomethane or biofuels.

Attention will be given to the large-scale projects already in use or planned and in each case a project description will be provided. From the current status of large-scale gasification an overview will be given of the evolving gasification market as a whole. Recommendations and learned experiences from the various projects will be shared for future developments in the field.

The second presentation will feature the outcomes of a report by “Guidehouse” which assesses the biomethane potential in 2040 for Europe (EU27 + Norway, Switzerland and UK).

This report also builds on and updates the 2030 and 2050 biomethane production estimates originally provided in the 2022 “Gas for Climate” study.

This will enable the establishment of a timeline for biomethane production potentials to 2030, 2040, and 2050. The report was due to be finalised and released mid-April 2024.

WEDNESDAY 26 JUNE | 10:15

4. Plenary Session CP.1:
Sustainable Resources for Decarbonising the Economy

This Plenary session covers the scope of Topic 1 including sustainable resources for decarbonising the economy. Three presentations address above all marginal lands, feedstocks with low land use change impacts and optimisation of microalgae production.

The first and keynote presentation will cover the results from work done in the MIDAS project (“Marginal lands and industrial crops for the European bioeconomy: combining bio-based products, climate resilience and biodiversity through innovative agricultural value chains”) on mapping current and future marginal lands while taking account of most recent data available and climate change effects. In addition, the speaker will present for the future marginal lands to which extent they are likely to overlap with abandoned and degraded lands, with high soil and wind erosion affected areas and the presence of specific ecosystem services.

The second presentation focuses on the final results of the case studies analysed in BIKE project (Safe and reliable biomass value chains for sustainable biofuels and the bioeconomy) where the main focus is on biomass feedstocks with low risk of indirect land use change (low ILUC). It is important to ensure that compliance with agricultural practices is maintained in order that sustainability and eventual certification are not compromised. Cultivation of low ILUC risk biomass crops must be achieved agreed boundaries. It is essential that certification is reinforced and there is consistent monitoring of compliance to ensure that low-ILUC crops are fully achieved.

The final presentation in the session will focus on the significant interest in developing methods for cultivating microalgae to harness their cellular content and bioactive compounds, thereby providing solutions to current challenges in areas such as the environment, food production and the energy transition.

As part of producing high-value products, the project described aims to improve microalgae harvesting using membrane processes, securing the culture water, replacing chemical compounds used during harvesting and for extraction/purification of metabolites of interest.

Preliminary findings indicate an overall benefit in using ultrafiltered seawater for cultivating microalgae, both in quantity and quality and a significative gain in time and ease of production compared to other treatments.

With regard to the harvesting of microalgae by membrane filtration, the filtration parameters have been optimised and the results demonstrate the advantages of the process, with high filtration flux, process stability, recovery of initial performance after treatment and almost complete recovery of the algal cells.

WEDNESDAY 26 JUNE | 13:45

5. Plenary Session CP.2:
Capturing the Future: What Lies Ahead for Biobased Carbon Removals

This special plenary session addresses the potential of biomass-based negative emissions technologies and including an overview of the first EU-wide voluntary framework to reliably certify high-quality carbon removals (CRCF) and the importance of creating a supportive and predictable policy framework that investors and consumers can trust.

The session will present possible pathways to achieve a carbon market that is consistent, standardised, and transparent, ensuring that all available solutions receive equal support to become successful market actors.

Specifically, the potential of three different CDR methodologies will be explored: Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), Biochar Carbon Removal (BCR) and biogenic CO2 capture in demolished concrete aggregate.

The session will showcase these carbon removal projects from a technological perspective, while addressing public perception and possible knowledge gaps. In addition, this plenary session will explore whether the EU should consider carbon removal credits in the long run for the next phase of the EU ETS (Emission Trading System), but most importantly it will investigate economic models and financial mechanisms to drive investment in CDR projects.

THURSDAY 27 JUNE | 12:15

6. Plenary Session DP.1:
Biomass Conversion to Intermediate Bioenergy Carriers and Sustainable Biofuels

This plenary session will compare and review various production technologies for advanced biofuels, with the main focus on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

The keynote presentation covers jet fuel molecules from furanics and looks in particular at the challenges and the opportunities. The aviation sector is in urgent need of SAF alternatives to reduce its high contribution to carbon emissions. Increasing SAF availability especially in the context of available and evolving second generation biomass biorefineries is of essence to support these ambitious targets. The H2020 HIGFLY project aims to develop a new generation of technologies for the production of sustainable aviation fuels from abundant and sustainable biomass feedstocks. For this, HIGFLY relies on the use of biobased oxygenates derived from hemicellulose carbohydrates to develop a synergetic platform for biomass valorisation to fuels and chemicals. In this presentation validation activities performed in the framework of the project will be highlighted, including the key performance parameters which contribute the most to the process footprint and what will be the key process developments for future scale up and implementation.

The second presentation will address sustainable aviation and marine fuel from fast pyrolysis bio-oil.  The fast pyrolysis process has developed steadily over the last decade or so and has found numerous applications for its bio-oil product. This plenary will look at the production of drop-in biofuels obtained by the catalytic hydrotreatment of Fast Pyrolysis Bio Oil (FPBO). The results reported will be based on experimental work in bench- and pilot-scale, continuous flow hydrotreaters belonging a long chain of successful fast pyrolysis technology development.

The final presentation comprises an assessment of the technical and economic performances of biofuels, E-fuels and E-biofuels processes.

In a context of energy transition, where the necessary electrification of applications will not be able to replace the entire demand for carbonaceous molecules, it is crucial that their production is decoupled from fossil carbon extraction.

If it makes sense to use electricity for road mobility, especially for short distances, liquid or gaseous fuels should be more appropriate for longer distances, especially for aviation and shipping.

Similarly, the replacement of liquid fuels in aviation by other fuels (gas, electricity) seems highly unlikely. For this reason, society needs a focus and a clear overview of the performance of processes for synthetic biofuels production, synthetic e-biofuels or synthetic e-fuels. The study described in this plenary presentation aims to provide a clear view of the different existing conversion routes, their characteristics and performance. It was necessary to capitalise on the work done in the past.

This study has provided new technical and economic assessment results for a wide range of thermochemical conversion processes for renewable carbon (more than 130 case studies).