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Developing next generation technologies for biofuels and sustainable alternative fuels


Specific challenge:Europe has limited biomass and land resources to cope with an increased demand for fuels and other uses. Thus, in the long-term perspective, new technologies of sustainable biofuels and alternative fuels need to be developed that radically improve the state-of-art, notably in regards to the following sub-challenges:

a)      Improving conversion efficiency and/or enlargement of the biomass feedstock basis.

b)      Developing alternative fuels through use of new and sustainable resources from non-biomass non-fossil sources.

c)      Improving the economic, environmental and social benefits relative to fossil fuels and currently available biofuels, notably regarding cost reduction, minimisation of demand on natural resources (land and water in particular), enhanced energy balance, reduced GHG emissions (including carbon stock changes) and development of rural areas.

Scope: Proposals focusing on the long-term perspective should aim at developing the next wave of alternative and sustainable fuels by moving technologies from TRL 3-4 to TRL 4-5 (please see part G of the General Annexes). In each case, they should address sub-challenge a) or b) and sub-challenge c) described above.

Environment, health and safety issues, regional and social dimension, shall be considered in all developments and appropriately addressed. An assessment of alternative uses of the used feedstocks outside the bioenergy sector should also be done.

Biofuels produced from starch, sugar and oil fractions of food/feed crops are excluded.

An important element will be an increased understanding of risks (whether technological, in business processes, for particular business cases, or otherwise in each area), risk ownership, and possible risk mitigation. Proposals shall therefore include appropriate work packages on this matter.

Proposals shall explicitly address performance and cost targets together with relevant performance indicators, expected impacts, as well as provide explicit exploitation plans. Proposals should also indicate the current Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL, see Appendix to this work programme) and the activities needed to keep the MRL aligned with the advances in the TRL that will be undertaken in the proposal to ensure the potential for exploitation.

Opening the project's test sites and pilot facilities, or research infrastructures for practice oriented education, training or knowledge exchange is encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 to 6 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: The new developed technology pathways should permit the use of new feedstock sources that do not compete directly or indirectly with food or feed production for resources, or a more efficient conversion of the current ones. A favourable energy balance is expected, as well as a significant potential for cost reduction, which would permit these fuels to eventually compete favourably with fossil or older-generation equivalent fuels. The development of new technologies will permit robust and reliable assessment of the environmental and social benefits with respect to current technologies, notably in terms of GHG performance, energy balance, efficient use of natural resources, decentralised energy production, and job creation in rural areas, as well as secure and affordable energy supply in Europe or worldwide.

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions