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Bioenergy retrofits for Europe’s industry

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BIOFIT (Bioenergy retrofits for Europe’s industry)

Período documentado: 2020-04-01 hasta 2022-03-31

In the last decades it has become increasingly clear that fossil fuel resources are scarce, finite and their use can harm the environment and our climate. Besides reducing our CO2 emissions – a need recognized in the Paris agreement (2015) – increasing renewable energy production will ensure enhanced security of supply, more innovation, jobs and growth.

Bioenergy is an essential form of renewable energy, providing an estimated 60% of EU’s renewable energy production in 2017. Bioenergy is a complex and sometimes controversial topic. There is an increasing understanding that only bioenergy that is supplied and used in a sustainable manner has a place in a low carbon energy future.

Spurred by innovation, bioenergy technologies are becoming more advanced and diverse, leading to the production of a variety of advanced transport fuels (first- and second-generation bioethanol, biodiesel and bio-kerosene), intermediate bioenergy carriers and high efficiency, low carbon emission production of power, heating and cooling. Besides erecting entirely new bioenergy plants, retrofitting existing facilities, meaning the replacement of part of a plant or installation with state-of-the-art equipment, can be a good alternative solution to replace fossil fuels or to upgrade outdated renewable technology. Retrofitting often results in lower capital expenditure (CAPEX), shorter lead times, faster implementation, lower production time losses and risks.

The BIOFIT project is a HORIZON2020 initiative that aims to facilitate the introduction of bioenergy retrofitting in five specific industries, namely first-generation biofuels, pulp and paper, fossil refineries, fossil firing power and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants.
The overall objective of the BIOFIT project is to facilitate the introduction of bioenergy retrofitting in said industries, leading to an increase in the share of renewable energy in the final EU energy consumption.
The core actions in BIOFIT are Mapping of existing bioenergy retrofits, studying both technical and non-technical aspects, developing concrete retrofit proposals in collaboration with industrial partners, engaging and supporting the broader industry through five Industry fora (working groups, and wider Dissemination of project results and findings.

Part of the mapping exercise is an on-line retrofitting map which shows the major locations in the EU were bioenergy retrofits have taken place, and provides basic characteristics. A select number of bioenergy retrofits has been highlighted further in the form of best practice factsheets, that show successful actual retrofits that have taken place in all five target sectors. To determine the motivations, experiences and perceptions of the people that were responsible for implementing retrofits, a survey has taken place. The aim of this survey is to identify especially the sector-specific and in-company barriers towards retrofitting, and to suggest optimal strategies to facilitate further bioenergy retrofitting. To disseminate knowledge on bioenergy retrofitting to relevant stakeholders, a bioenergy retrofitting handbook has been completed. The handbook is meant to facilitate technical understanding of bioenergy retrofits, thereby presenting the information in understandable language and easy-to-understand graphs and illustrations. The legal, institutional and political framework conditions at EU level and at the level of a selected number of EU countries have been identified and summarised in a framework conditions report. In the project separate attention is paid to providing advice for policy makers on national and regional level. The first summary paper for policy makers has recently been produced.

Results show that the use of bioenergy is widespread in the EU. Many large-scale industrial bioenergy plants have been implemented, with retrofitting as the dominant mode of implementation. There are large differences between countries that are likely related to biomass availability. Sector-wise there are also large differences: 60% of the energy used in the pulp and paper industry is renewable, while the fossil refineries sector shows comparatively little bioenergy use. Combustion is an often-used technology, obviously in the fossil fired power sector and for CHP but more advanced technologies like gasification and production of intermediate bioenergy carriers are gaining ground. In the first-generation biofuels sector, there is – because of the EU REDII sustainability requirements - a keen interest to switch to second-generation biofuels, though feedstock availability is considered limiting.
The BIOFIT actions have contributed to the following impacts:
• Facilitate the introduction of bioenergy retrofitting and increase the share of renewable energy in the final energy consumption;
• Help to reduce the expenses - in time and money - for bioenergy retrofit project development, without losing sight of the the needs for environmental impact assessments and public engagement;
• Develop more informed policy, market support and financial frameworks, notably at national, regional and local level. This should result in more cost-effective support schemes and lower financing costs for RES facilities.

The three impacts are all expected to lead to more market uptake of bioenergy retrofits in the target industries, and consequently to more renewable bioenergy production. BIOFIT is expected to lead to more bioenergy production in the five targeted industries due to 1) the expected implementation of (part of) the case study proposals, and 2) because of the many other activities that will – more indirectly - facilitate bioenergy retrofits.

The renewable energy that is to be produced when all ten case study proposals are implemented is substantial, totaling 20.4 PJ/year. Main reason for this very high figure is the medium/large scale industrial focus of the project. At this moment (2022) one of the case study proposals (AustroCel Hallein in Austria) is implemented, leading to additional production of 30 million liters of advanced biofuels per year (0.6 PJ/year). Total investment was 42 million Euro.
Visual with QR code of BIOFIT