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ABC in Gothenburg summed up the situation for new biofuels

"We are a young industry that need security and stable conditions to be able to invest. We need guaranteed markets for our products. The industry representatives agreed in the panel debate at Svebio’s conference, the International Advanced Biofuels Conference, held 18-19 May in Gothenburg.

Ruta Baltause, Kaisa Hietala, Eric Sievers, Gustav Melin, Johan Hultberg and the conference's moderator Mattias Goldmann, CEO of Fores.

Ruta Baltause, Kaisa Hietala, Eric Sievers, Gustav Melin, Johan Hultberg and the conference’s moderator Mattias Goldmann, CEO of Fores.

The panel experts also agreed that all types of raw materials, production technologies and fuels are needed to cope with the major challenge of replacing fossil fuels.

“We need all these advanced technologies,” said Ruta Baltause representing the EU Commission’s Energy Directorate.

Ruta Baltause from the EU Commission's Energy Directorate and Johan Hultberg, MP for the Moderates.

Ruta Baltause from the EU Commission’s Energy Directorate and Johan Hultberg, MP for the Moderates.

On the question of whether it is time to invest now, Johan Hultberg, MP of the Moderates, answered:

There is always a risk with investing when politicians decide the terms, but I’m convinced that there will be a global market.

Neste’s representative, Vice President Kaisa Hietala, stressed that a much larger market than the Nordic for the new biofuels is needed now. She saw the greatest future opportunities in the United States and Asia. The EU is too uncertain.

Neste’s Vice President Kaisa Hietala.

Neste’s Vice President Kaisa Hietala.

There were many who complained that the EU has too low ambitions when it comes to decarbonising the transport sector and replacing fossil fuels.

Many companies are pleased that it now appears that there will be mandatory quotas in EU countries for advanced biofuels, which in the EU are defined as the fuels produced by commodities listed in Annex IX of the Renewable Directive: waste, residues and cellulosic raw materials. But others regretted that the EU wants to phase out crop-based biofuels. The most critical of the EU was Eric Sievers, CEO of Pannonia Ethanol in Hungary:

If you trust Brussels – don’t!

That was his advice for the conference.

Sievers has personal experience. He told of two different projects that were mothballed after statements and amended regulations from Brussels.

Great opportunities in air travel and shipping

It is not just in road transport that fossil fuels must be replaced by biofuels. For aviation there is no realistic alternative to biofuels, which means that more and more airlines are now testing biofuels. The aviation industry has committed itself not to increase greenhouse gas emissions after 2020. It is a huge challenge, said Jaako Jokinen from Pöyry.

Eric Siever's CEO of Pannonia Ethanol in Hungary, Jaako Jokinen from Pöyry and Claus Felby from Copenhagen University.

Eric Siever’s CEO of Pannonia Ethanol in Hungary, Jaako Jokinen from Pöyry and Claus Felby from Copenhagen University.

One sector that has not been given much attention is shipping. Claus Felby from Copenhagen University showed that there is a big market here. Shipping consumes 330 million tonnes of fossil fuels, accounting for 2 – 3 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. A very large portion of the shipping freight takes place via a handful of very big ports, such as Rotterdam, Singapore, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. Ship engines are designed to burn heavy fuel oils, close to asphalt, but require large volumes. Here there is the possibility of using biofuels that do not have to be so refined, said Claus Felby.

Facts about the ABC conference

Organised by Svebio, the International Advanced Biofuels Conference was held in Gothenburg 18-19 May 2017, with study tours 17 May. The conference had 41 speakers from 15 countries, and a total of 150 participants from 25 countries. One of the sessions was held in collaboration with IEA Bioenergy Annex 39.

The study tours went to:

  • GoBiGas – biomass gasification plant.
  • St1 – Production of ethanol from bakery waste.
  • Perstorp – production of rape-based diesel RME.
  • Preem – production of HVO diesel based on tall oil.
  • Volvo – trucks for renewable fuels.
  • Södra Cell / Värö Mill – pulp production with extensive bioenergy production.

The whole conference programme can be found here and if you have further questions, please contact Svebio, +46 8 441 70 80.

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