23rd EUBCE marks the record of participating countries and confirms its global leading role for the bioenergy community

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Source: ETA Florence - Renewable Energies

Vienna -- With 803 presentations by over 2,500 authors and co-authors, this year, the 23rd European Biomass Conference and Exhibition has marked the record number of 76 participating countries.In total, 1,394 participants attended the EUBCE and, as the hosting country, Austria ranked first by number of participants, followed by Germany, Italy and The Netherlands. An impressive 30% increase in the number of participants from Asian countries also showed the growing interest for biomass and bioenergy in this region.

“This conference presented the newest R&D results and supported networking and communication exchange between researchers'said Ingwald Obernberger, Conference General Chairman. As in the previous years, the EUBCE offered, in fact, a wealth of opportunities to promote business and commercial activities, with over 80 participants from 36 countries attending a lively match-making event and the 43 exhibitors presenting many innovative projects and advanced bioenergy products. “This year’s conference has been fantastic for us, many more visitors to our stand than previous years, huge interest in our research outputs and many colleagues expressing interest in future collaborations ” – Supergen Bioenergy Hub, UK. “The biomass market in China is still developing; this conference gave us access to the newest biomass technologies in Europe. At the exhibition, we found several interesting projects from all over the world to collaborate with. This event provides an excellent platform for knowledge exchange at international level” said one of the member of a delegation from China University of Petroleum, Beijing.“We had a lot of serious contacts from all over the world and we are satisfied with the results of our participation as exhibitors”, Politechnik Austria.

The European Biomass Conference and Exhibition confirms its global importance to bring the scientific and the industrial community together; permanent R&D activities, together with a stable regulatory framework supporting the market penetration of new technologies are two fundamental elements for all marketplayers,” said Ingwald Obernberger, Conference General Chairman, during the Conference Political Opening.

“We need to put in place the right ecosystem of industry, researchers and policymakers and all of them are represented well at this conference', added Vladimir ?ucha, Director of the European Commission Joint Research Centre. He remarked that the European Union is setting up the very ambitious goal of establishing an energy union and one of the aims of this is to make Europe become the world leader in renewable energy technologies, including the sustainable use of biomass. To achieve this, we need to develop a holistic approach to knowledge production and management and this conference greatly helps in this scope.

Günther Liebel, Federal Ministry of Agriculture of Austria, showed some impressive statistics of the current renewable energy scenario in Austria: with over 45% of the share, bioenergy from biomass, including biomass power and heating, biofuels, biogas and black liquor, is the most used renewable energy source in Austria. “Austria is the homeland of bioenergy” said Josef Planck President, Austrian Biomass Association; “we have a strong home market, inventive research centres and innovative companies. Our vision is Austria's full transition to an efficient, renewable energy system with the best possible contribution of local, sustainably produced biomass to provide heat, cooling, electricity and fuels. To achieve this, we promote biomass as a renewable energy source in terms of energy and climate policy and a rapid energy transition with clear targets and ambitious actions to reduce energy consumption and to develop renewable, climate-friendly and regional energy sources”.

David De Jager, IEA-RETD, presented the opportunities for biomass offered by the application of innovative policies for renewable heating and cooling. Performance based incentives can wake up the sleeping giant of renewable heating and cooling, examples include the successful application of the renewable heating incentive scheme in the UK and of the SDE+ Contract for Difference scheme for electricity, heat and gas in The Netherlands. Policymakers can and should act now to implement these innovative policies to move markets along the deployment curve. In order to achieve this RES-H/C should be integrated into comprehensive, ambitious energy plans and in this context, biomass has a leading role to play by replacing oil coal and gas in boilers, decarbonizing high temperature district heating systems and by offering a trade-off with some energy efficiency measures at lower costs.

Paolo Frankl, International Energy Agency, introducing the panel debate on Bioenergy and Economic Growth highlighted that Renewable Energy is facing a difficult time because of persisting political uncertainties and because of the drop in oil prices. At this particular time, communicating the socio-economic benefits of renewable energy and bioenergy in particular assumes a crucial importance. It is important to remember that there is no economic growth without energy security and bioenergy has an important role to play in this, but we still need to clearly assess the socio-economic impact of this sector. Today bioenergy ranks first among renewable energies for the number of jobs created, but we need a more systematic approach to keep this trend and to look at the role of bioenergy in the whole portfolio of renewables and the energy system in general.

Theodor Zillner, Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology highlighted that the Austrian policy is working to integrate bioenergy into a greater strategy for the bioeconomy. In this strategy, biomass resources are used in an intelligent way to produce bio- products together with energy, and this approach could greatly help the EU to create more value from its resources while reducing its fossil fuel dependency. Marko Jahnunen UPM Biorefining, Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, remarked how bioenergy and advanced biofuels can create outstanding opportunities for jobs and growth, but most of the advanced and innovative projects will not be able to move forward to a bigger commercial industrial scale without regulatory certainty at EU level. “We need clear markets and clear standards for the bioenergy market”echoed Morteza Fesharaki, CEO of Herz Energietechnik.

Giovanni De Santi, Director, Institute for Energy and Transport, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, stressed that at present advanced bioenergy is developing at different rates in various member states and this is a big limiting factor. We need to develop a real European approach with a common view to push forward innovations in bioenergy from research and demonstration to markets, starting from the real potentials of sustainable biomass and then by adopting a level playing field with same criteria and same methodologies in all member states.

The following messages were collected on June 4th during the Closing Session, chaired by Ingwald Obernberger, with the presentation of  some the Conference Highlights by David Baxter, followed by a panel discussion with Heinz Kopetz, President, World Bioenergy Association, Jörgen Held, Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of European Biogas Association, Andreas Hornung, Fraunhofer-Institut UMSICHT, Institute Branch Sulzbach-Rosenberg and Adam Brown, Senior Energy Analyst, International Energy Agency in Paris:

In order to fully deploy the advantages of biomass we have to increase feedstock flexibility, to think locally but with an international vision and to cascade the use of biomass like in bio refineries. In order to move new technologies forward we need clear strategies and a vision on how to cooperate on an international worldwide basis ” said Ingwald Obernberger.

Heinz Kopetz emphasized that looking at IPCC projections we need to have a reduction of CO2 of at least 50%. And therefore we need better targets for renewables in Europe and biomass should double its contribution by 2030. “We need much better communication between scientists and experts coming from food agriculture and experts coming from bioenergy in order to advance in the debate on the sustainability of bioenergy” he added.

“Bioenergy is of most importance in order to achieve the targets of 2030 because it can greatly contribute tosustainability and socio-economic aspects” 
said Jörgen Held.

“Bioeconomy is to be build on integrated bio based solutions, flexible in feedstocks and products. Like in chemical industry a highly interlinked energy and mass flow management will be required to be finally successful” added Andreas Hornung.

“It is an Interesting time for bioenergy but also a challenging one because of the current situation of low fossil fuel prices, unstable political support and also because other low carbon technologies are particularly lowering their costs. There are opportunities for bioenergy in the electricity system with a lot of variable renewables in it. The main focus is in identifying the most efficient and integrate way to use biomass” said Adam Brown.

ILUC does not spell the end of biomass crops utilisation for bioenergy and biofuels – emerging agricultural practices provide enhanced yield without negative impact on food production”said David Baxter, commenting on the overview of the main highlights of the conference.

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