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BIKE - Biofuels production at low - Iluc risK for European sustainable bioeconomy

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIKE (BIKE - Biofuels production at low - Iluc risK for European sustainable bioeconomy)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2022-02-28

Advanced biofuels are a key contributor to policy targets for the transition towards low carbon transport, especially in sectors which lack immediate alternatives, such as aviation, maritime and heavy duty. The revised renewable energy directive (RED II) sets a target for biofuels consumption in transport sector to 14% within 2030, with a particular focus on advanced biofuels, thus with strong limits to the consumption of high ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels with a significant expansion in land with high carbon stock. The RED II specifies the biomass feedstock suitable for the production of advanced, low-ILUC risk biofuels in the Part A of Annex IX of the directive. The use of advanced biofuels by conventional transport fleets requires limited changes to the existing infrastructure and engines, and thus their integration can be smooth and immediate. However, advanced, low-ILUC risk biofuels production faces multiple challenges that are interconnected with those of sustainable agriculture and relate to producing additional biomass without distorting food and feed markets along with addressing pressing environmental challenges for ecosystem services, biodiversity, and improving soil quality.

BIKE is a Horizon 2020 project aiming to support the market uptake of low ILUC risk feedstocks for biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels. The project aims to provide clear and scientifically robust evidence for opportunities of European feedstock that can be considered for low ILUC risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels. In addition, the project aims to give policy makers, certification bodies and biofuels makers a systematic knowledge on options for low ILUC feedstock that can be sustainably produced within the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) through closing ‘yield gaps’ on underperforming areas, increasing cropping efficiency through crop and region-specific management practices, and restoring unused, abandoned and degraded land. In addition, the project aims to demonstrate the sustainability of 4 low-ILUC risk biofuels production routes, and to contribute to an informed biophysical, economic, and socially relevant perspective for an ‘engineering-focused’ climate, energy and agricultural policy landscape.
The BIKE project analysed the present market status, the potential development and the options for the low-ILUC risk biofuels production in Europe. Furthermore, the study also identified opportunities to enhance the environmental performance of biomass cropping, reflecting also the three environmental goals of the Common Agricultural Policy, each of which are echoed in the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategy. The performed work followed a value chain approach (land use, feedstock options, conversion, end products) and combined top down modelling estimates based on statistical data and recent research with bottom up analysis of case studies with profiles matching the current definition of low ILUC risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels. Moreover, in order to apply the developed knowledge and to certify the sustainability of Low-ILUC biofuels practices, BIKE project identified 4 Low-ILUC risk biofuels production routes:

• CS 1. Castor oil cultivation in arid/degraded/abandoned land, with biochar production for soil improvement, for HVO (Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil) production
• CS 2. Lignocellulosic Ethanol production from perennial/biannual crops
• CS 3. Brassica Carinata cultivation as cover crop for low ILUC biofuel production
• CS 4. Biogas Done Right model for Biomethane production in decentralized farms

In total, 12 real case studies for each production route have been identified in Italy, Greece, UK. Furthermore, ISCC system, partner of the project, worked to develop a dedicated auditing system for Low-ILUC risk certification and 4 industrial scale production routes (one per Case study) have been selected to be audited and certified by the ISCC system
BIKE identified and classified all biofuels production plants in Europe, in order to define the existing advanced biofuels production volumes and facilities. In total, less than 5 million cubic meters of advanced biofuels are produced. However, most of the EU advanced biofuels production is related to the use of Used Cooking Oil (UCO) for HVO production. On the contrary, the advanced biofuels obtained from feedstock included in the RED II Annex IX, Part A, is neglectable. At the same time, the project studies about biomass additionality systems have shown that significant progress could be made by closing ‘yield gaps’ on underachieving areas, increasing cropping efficiency through crop and region-specific management practices, and restoring unused, abandoned and degraded land. These results, together with the introduction of a new certification system, the auditing and the validation of the identified 4 Low-ILUC biofuels production routes could contribute to a rapid development of Low-ILUC risk biofuels market sector in Europe