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Uptake of Solid Bioenergy in European Commercial Sectors (Industry, Trade, Agricultural and Service Sectors) – Bioenergy for Business

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Bioenergy4Business (Uptake of Solid Bioenergy in European Commercial Sectors (Industry, Trade, Agricultural and Service Sectors) – Bioenergy for Business)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2017-08-31

The Bioenergy4Business (B4B) project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme, was realised by an international consortium led by the Austrian Energy Agency between January 2015 and August 2017. The project addressed the key societal challenge of providing secure, clean and efficient energy for heating purposes in Europe.
The projects’ main focus was to create demand for mid-scale biomass heating systems within selected heat market segments, for which individual small scale systems for space heating became less competitive.
B4Bs main objectives were to
increase the utilisation of solid biomass sources by a (partial) fuel-switch from coal, oil or natural gas used for heat purposes
support the application of sound business models and the careful assessment and implementation of biomass heat applications in selected industrial, commercial, agricultural, residential and services’ heat market segments
build a bridge between policy makers and market actors to support the creation of an enabling environment for an uptake of biomass used for heat purposes
The main technologies which were investigated by the B4B project were solid biomass heating plants for supplying low temperature, either individually, in-house or via a district grid. B4B focused on the mid-scale power range (0.1 to 20 MW nominal heat load); targeting the application of mature biomass to heat conversion technologies, utilising either (1) wood-chips from wood-based industry or forests, (2) wood pellets or (3) straw.
The projects’ first milestone was to identify, for each of the 11 target countries, three to four promising heat market segments in which mid-scale bioheat is expected to be competitive with fossil heat (please find the results in figure 1 and figure 2). 56 interviews with bioheat market actors (boiler manufacturers, planners, project developers and operators) were performed. The country reports and an overall summary report give detailed information on the available biomass potential and the target heat markets chosen, including structural data, fossil fuel utilisation, and the fuel switch and GHG mitigation potential. During the project, 2,220 visits to the related project website were recorded.
Moreover, existing bioenergy business models, regulations, support schemes and policies were assessed in a consistent manner. Interviews with representatives from banks revealed the financing requirements related to biomass heating projects. In order to investigate barriers, opportunities and needs of the target heat markets, 118 stakeholders of the demand and supply side and public authorities were interviewed. Those contents were discussed and complemented in the 1st round of bioheat policies workshops, where 200+ authorities and other market actors took part.
Focusing on the identified target heat markets, B4B offered comprehensive capacity building activities (info days, training seminars including field trips, and study tours) to key stakeholders of the target countries. Overall, more than 2,600 key stakeholders along the biomass value chain took part at the national events and were advised on the opportunities created by local biomass heat value chains. By means of a special tool-box, participants of training seminar were educated to assess and develop sustainable, economically sound biomass heating projects.
Furthermore, B4B advised public authorities about policy measures which are applicable to speed up the diffusion of bioheat technology in the target heat markets by creating a more investor friendly environment. Recommendations were given how national framework conditions should be adopted to allow for better replication of business strategies and models which are already successfully implemented in other European countries. In a 2nd series of bioheat policies workshops, more than 200 authorities and other market actors took part.
The B4B guidelines, tool-box and model contracts for biomass supply, enables project developers and investors to lower transaction costs significantly. Particularly, the “B4B Bioheat Profitability Assessment Tool” facilitates a quick dimensioning and profitability assessment (a “stop-or-go decision”) can be performed with very low transaction costs. The tool calculates socio-economic, energy balance and environmental related impact data for each assessed project.
In total, the B4B consortium assessed 17 actual biomass heating plants with a nominal boiler capacity of 22.1 MW (peak load, thereof 15.7 MW covered by biomass boilers) on pre-feasibility level for potential investors. The realisation of all these 17 biomass heating plants would trigger an investment of 5.6 mEUR (4.13 mEUR debt, 0.36 mEUR equity capital and 0.53 mEUR of public incentives). The assessed plants would avoid the utilisation of 33.3 GWh/a of fossil fuels and thus GHG emissions of 8,502 t/a CO2 equivalent. Despite fossil energy prices currently being rather low, nine of the 17 assessed plants are expected to be realised within the next two years. One plant is currently being built; another one is in the planning phase. Further investors stated that they plan to realise plants which are currently less economically attractive, in case fossil fuel prices were to increase.
The most sustained impact on market transformation will be due to intensive national information, capacity building and networking activities on national level for promising heat market segments. The impact of these dissemination activities is considered to be very high due to the nature of the events, i.e. a know-how and show-how transfer on personal level. The establishment of new stakeholder networks and strengthening of existing networks will have a sustained, positive impact on the development of the national biomass heating industries. Especially, SMEs’ like biomass boiler manufacturers benefit(ed) from the B4B activities and the networks established. The impressive number of 1.5 m visits to the project website by 80,000 individual visitors reflects the great interest in the project.
A high replicability of bioenergy demonstration projects can be generally expected, as successful projects are commonly being replicated on local level, in different regions and countries. B4B supported the replication of projects by offering guidelines for establishing supply chains and bioenergy utilisation; by documentation of 23 realised supply and 39 demand side best practice examples; and by offering tools that enable an assessment under specific site conditions. These materials and tools serve as blueprints for replication.
The ultimate project goal was to stimulate and foster investments in fuel-switches from fossil fuels to biomass at mid-scale heating projects, resulting in a local demand pull for solid biomass. This development strengthens the security of energy supply, mitigates climate change, creates added value and secures jobs on a local and regional level. Furthermore, the project partners supported improvements of the policy framework towards facilitating a bioheat uptake, by performing several bioheat policy workshops and compiling a set of recommendations.
The B4B actions, results and material allow businesses to make use and benefit from the opportunities created by establishing local biomass heating value chains. Thus the project successfully contributed to European policy objectives and strategies. The sustained impact of B4B will foster the sustainable utilisation of bioheat beyond 2020.
Less often selected target heat markets
Most frequently identified target heat markets