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Demonstrating advanced biofuel technologies

Specific challenge:In the short-term and medium-term perspective, due to different issues (such as the limited distribution infrastructure of the electrification option, or the unsuitability of such option for certain transport modes), biofuels are expected to be increasing contributors to the de-carbonisation of the transport sector. In order to achieve the EU targets regarding renewable energy in transport and CO2 abatement (set out in the RES and Fuel Quality Directives), and to address concerns regarding indirect and direct environmental impacts of biofuels, new and advanced biofuels using sustainable feedstock need to reach the market. To this end, the following sub-challenges should be addressed:

  • Proving that advanced biofuels and bioenergy carriers technologies, as identified in the Implementation Plan of the European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative (EIBI)[1], are technically viable, environmentally and socially sustainable, and potentially cost-competitive at commercial scale.
  • Developing logistic systems for a sound, safe and sustainable feedstock supply.

Scope: Proposals should address the medium-term challenges for market penetration of advanced biofuels as presented above. In each case, they should address one of the respective sub-challenges, or a combination of them. They should bring technology solutions to a higher TRL level (please see part G of the General Annexes), in line with the Implementation Plan of the European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative (EIBI)[2]. Proposals shall aim at moving technologies that reached already TRL 5-6 to TRL 6-7 through industrial demonstration projects[3].

Environment, health and safety issues in the whole life cycle should be considered in all demonstrations 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 for the entire area of renewables 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 key performance indicators and the expected impacts. Industrial involvement in the consortium and explicit exploitation plans are a prerequisite.

All proposals have to include a work package on the business case of the technology solution being addressed. This work package has to demonstrate the business case of the technology and identify potential issues of public acceptance, market and regulatory barriers, including standardisation needs. It should also address, where appropriate, synergies between new and existing technologies, regional approaches and other socio-economic and environmental aspects from a life-cycle perspective. 

The current Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL, see Annex 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 should also be indicated to ensure the potential for exploitation.

Opening the project's test sites, pilot and demonstration 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 5 to 20 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: Testing advanced biofuel technologies at large industrial scale reduces the technological risks, paving the way for subsequent first-of-a-kind, commercial-scale industrial demonstration projects. For this purpose, the scale of the proposals should permit obtaining the data and experience required so that a first-of-a-kind, commercial-scale industrial demonstration project can be envisaged as a next step. The industrial concepts demonstrated should have the potential for a significant social and economic impact, notably in terms of job creation, economic growth and safe and affordable energy supply in Europe and beyond.

Type of action: Innovation Actions

[1] The EIBI Implementation Plan is found on

[2] Note that an eligibility criterion sets a minimum bioenergy content: at least 70% of the marketable bio-products produced by the plant shall be bioenergy (biofuels, bioenergy carriers, heat, power) calculated on the basis of the energy content.

[3] Coordination is foreseen to avoid duplication of efforts under the Energy Work Programme and the Bio-Based Industries JTI regarding biomass supply and logistics which could be addressed under both support schemes and regarding energy driven biorefineries, i.e. those with a minimum of 70% bioenergy output, in case such biorefineries are selected for funding under the Bio-Based Industries JTI.