The EU is committed to meeting the energy challenge in a sustainable
way. Bioenergy already accounts for more than two thirds of total
renewable energy in the EU. Unlike solar or wind power, bioenergy does
not rely on intermittently available resources. In addition, unlike
combustion of fossil fuels, biomass can be a carbon-neutral or even
carbon-negative energy option depending on the cultivations and fuel
production process used.
The European Research Area (ERA) networking project BESTF2
(Bioenergy sustaining the future 2) has established a cooperative funding scheme to coordinate relevant close-to-market demonstration projects at the national or regional level. A key goal is to make bioenergy economically competitive with the combustion of fossil fuels while ensuring sustainable production of biomass resources.
Aside from enabling progress not possible with individual national projects, BESTF2 will facilitate realisation of the European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative Implementation Plan. It is part of the broader EU 20/20/20 targets to achieve a 20 % decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20 % share of energy consumption from renewables and a 20 % increase in energy efficiency by 2020.
Five projects have been selected to receive funding from a combination of national entities, European Commission contributions and industry matching. They represent bioenergy value chains reflecting a diversity of feedstocks, processing options, national bioenergy markets and bioenergy outputs. Projects are designed to utilise existing or demonstration plants to minimise infrastructure investment. Development of innovative modifications to or novel combinations of existing technologies will lead to a step-change in the socioeconomic impact of bioenergy.
The team is now negotiating grant terms with the successful project coordinators. In parallel, monitoring officers are starting the process of scheduling regular meetings with the coordinators to keep careful track of progress. The website showcases information on the eight participating countries and their national funding agencies contributing to the effort.
Bioenergy is set to make a major contribution to the EU's energy landscape. Lowering the costs, while increasing the sustainability of biomass production, is the key to rapid and widespread uptake. Cooperative funding of the most promising projects will ensure that BESTF2 outcomes do both.