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Biomass Green Energy For Uerope

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Bio-Energy: Biomass Green Energy For Uerope

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EUR 21350
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       Green energy for Europe

2005         Directorate-General for Research   EUR 21350
               Sustainable Energy Systems
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Renewable energy sources will play an increasingly important role in securing both the Union’s energy supply and sustainable
development in the future. Renewable energy sources also make a major contribution to the protection of the environment.

The specific energy targets in the European Union for 2010 (EU-25) are to increase the share of renewable energies from 6% to
12% of gross energy consumption, of green electricity from 14% to 21% of gross electricity production and of liquid biofuels
to 5.75% of total fuel consumption.

Amongst renewable energy sources, the biggest contribution (63%) comes from biomass. Today, energy from biomass already
contributes to about 4% of the total EU energy supply, predominantly in heat, and to a lesser extent, in combined heat and
power (CHP) applications. By 2010, biomass is expected to cover as much as 8% of the total EU energy supply.

Biomass based energy systems can be implemented using a large variety of feedstock, including waste. They can use many
conversion technologies to produce energy, solid, liquid or gaseous fuels and other valuable materials.

Biomass is currently the only available renewable energy source that can produce competitively-priced fuels for transport in
larger quantities. It is already possible to obtain fuels from biomass that have very similar properties to those of conventional
fossil fuels. This minimises the need to adapt end-use technologies. Other benefits include the reduced need to import oil,
increased security of supply, reduction of emissions, job creation and an improvement of the local environment.

Research and technological development play a key role in the area of bio-energy, and the European Union has supported
biomass related research under several successive Framework Programmes. Under FP5, a total of about €140 million was spent
by the European Commission on biomass related research, covering the whole chain from production of feedstock to the end-
use. The current FP6, ongoing until 2006, will support biomass related research with a similar amount, focused on biofuels,
energy from crops, cofiring, gasification and biorefineries. The recently published Commission proposal for FP7 also foresees
support for this important area.

The objective of this brochure is to illustrate to a wide audience the advantages of using biomass as a renewable energy
source in Europe. To this end, it presents background information on biomass and an overview of related technologies and, in
particular the main products fuel, heat and electricity. It highlights the opportunities biomass can offer to our energy supply,
and shows how research supported by the European Union has contributed to the current state of biomass technology.

                                                                                                          Pablo Fernández Ruiz
Table of contents

Introduction                                                     7

Biomass resources                                               11

Biomass conversion                                              19

Products from biomass                                           27

Improving the prospects for bio-energy – what the EU is doing   39

Annexes                                                         45
Energy plays a crucial role in modern        Using renewable energy sources in         What is renewable energy?
life. It is needed for heating, lighting     place of fossil fuels reduces emission
and cooking in households and for vir-       of greenhouse gases and other pol-        Renewable energy sources are
tually every industrial, commercial and      lutants, improves security of supply by   those which occur naturally and,
transport activity. At the global level,     boosting diversification of energy pro-    unlike fossil fuels, are theoreti-
consumption of energy is growing             duction, and encourages the creation      cally inexhaustible. Examples
steadily – by around 2% a year in the        of new jobs and businesses.               include the sun, biomass, wind,
decade 1990-2000 and probably more                                                     geothermal heat, and tides,
                                             In the 25 countries of the European       waves and currents in oceans and
in 2000-2020.
                                             Union (EU), renewable energy sources      rivers.
Fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) currently   provided about 6% of total energy re-
account for about 79% world energy           quirements in 2002. The target is for
consumption, nuclear energy for 7%           the renewable energy share to reach
and renewable energy sources for 14%.        12% in 2010.

Global consumption of fossil fuels grew      Currently, nearly two-thirds of all the
in line with overall energy consump-         energy from renewable sources used
tion during the 1990s and is expected        in Europe comes from biomass and          What is biomass?
to grow faster than overall consump-         this source is set to play a significant
                                                                                       Biomass covers a wide range of
tion in the period up to 2020. Fossil        role in meeting the 2010 target.
                                                                                       products, by-products and waste
fuels have two main disadvantages.
                                                                                       streams from forestry and agri-
First, when they are burned they emit
                                                                                       culture (including animal hus-
pollutants, including the greenhouse
                                                                                       bandry) as well as municipal and
gases that are causing climate change.
                                                                                       industrial waste streams. A defi-
Second, countries without adequate re-
                                                                                       nition adopted by EU legislation
serves of fossil fuels are facing increas-
                                                                                       is: “...the biodegradable fraction
ing risks to the security of their energy
                                                                                       of products, waste and residues
                                                                                       from agriculture (including veg-
                                                                                       etal and animal substances), for-
                                                                                       estry and related industries, as
                                                                                       well as the biodegradable frac-
                                                                                       tion of industrial and municipal

                                                                                       Biomass thus includes trees, ara-
                                                                                       ble crops, algae and other plants,
                                                                                       agricultural and forest residues,
                                                                                       effluents, sewage sludge, ma-
                                                                                       nures, industrial by-products and
                                                                                       the organic fraction of municipal
                                                                                       solid waste.

    Photosynthesis and the carbon cycle
    All life on earth is based on green plants that convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and water from the atmosphere
    into organic matter and oxygen, using the energy of the sunlight. This process is called photosynthesis.
    Expressed simply, the overall chemical reaction is as follows (in this example glucose is the product):

    6CO2 + 6H2O = C6H12O6 + 6O2

    In plants, the energy from the sun is conserved in the form of chemical bonds. This chemically-stored energy
    can be used by the plants themselves or by animals and human beings.

    When biomass is burned or digested, the organic carbon is recycled in a complex global process known
    as the carbon cycle. In this process, the CO2 that was absorbed as the plants grew is simply returned to the
    atmosphere when the biomass is burned. Therefore, if the cycle of growth and harvest is maintained, there
    is, broadly speaking, no net release of CO2. This is why biomass is regarded as an energy source that does
    not emit CO2 into the atmosphere when burned.

    Fossil fuels, of course, are also organic matter. However, in their case the matter has been transformed and
    stored over a long period of time under heat and pressure in the absence of oxygen. When we burn fossil
    fuels we release in a short period a quantity of CO2 that has been locked up in plants and their follow-up
    products over millions of years.

    Biomass has many advantages as an           use of bio-energy, i.e. energy derived    needs to be done from the policy and
    energy resource. It can be used to pro-     from biomass, have already been in-       research viewpoint to ensure full devel-
    duce a wide variety of product types        troduced. Other policy steps needed       opment of this sector in the future.
    – heat, electricity, solid fuels, liquid    to allow widespread use of bio-energy
                                                                                          Following     this   introduction      the
    transport fuels, gaseous fuels, and         products are being developed.
                                                                                          brochure is arranged in three main
    other products. Biomass raw materi-
                                                Of course, not all the existing biomass   chapters covering biomass resources,
    als come in a range of forms which are
                                                resource can be used for energy pur-      conversion processes and products.
    abundant in most parts of the world,
                                                poses. Food, timber, paper and board      These focus on the European situation
    including Europe. Their use does not
                                                and certain high-value chemicals are      but, where appropriate, also refer to
    increase the carbon dioxide (CO2)
                                                also derived from biomass. Therefore,     activities in other parts of the world.
    content of the atmosphere. As a result
                                                bio-energy production must be inte-       A final chapter discusses what the EU
    of work done over the last decade,
                                                grated with the other priority applica-   is doing to improve the prospects for
    some excellent modern processes
                                                tions. Biomass must be used in a wise     bio-energy. It gives information on
    now exist for converting the raw ma-
                                                and sustainable way.                      the political context to the EU actions,
    terials to usable products such as the
                                                                                          what has already been done in terms of
    biodiesel and bioethanol blends that        This brochure provides an overview of
                                                                                          research, legislation, etc., and the chal-
    can be used in today’s vehicles without     the current situation and future pros-
                                                                                          lenges for the future.
    engine adaptation. In addition, some        pects for bio-energy in Europe bearing
    high-technology equipment has been          in mind the other priority calls on the
    developed specially tailored for bio-       biomass resource. The overall aim is to
    mass product use – for example, fully       show where and how bio-energy prod-
    automated boilers suitable for burning      ucts can be used right now, the high-
    wood pellets. A research framework          technology nature of today’s processes
    is in place that will allow further tech-   and equipment, the role of research in
    nological progress to be made. Some         developing these, the benefits of using
    legislative measures to support the         biomass for energy purposes, and what

Biomass resources
Biomass comes in various forms each of        The energy that can be obtained from
which has specific properties, uses and        a particular resource depends on its
advantages. The main sources are wood         chemical composition and moisture
from conventional and short-rotation          content.
forestry, other energy crops, residues
from forestry and agricultural produc-
tion, and by-products and wastes from
industrial and municipal processes.

Examples of biomass resources

 Category                                    Examples
 Dedicated plantations                       Short-rotation forestry (eucalyptus,
                                             Perennial crops (miscanthus)
                                             Arable crops (rapeseed, sugarcane,

 Residues                                    Wood from forestry thinning
                                             Wood felling residues
                                             Straw from cereals
                                             Other residues from food and
                                             industrial crops (sugarcane,
                                             tea, coffee, rubber trees, oil and
                                             coconut palms)

 By-products and wastes                      Sawmill waste
                                             Sewage sludge
                                             Organic fraction of municipal waste
                                             Used vegetable oils and fats

Availability and potential
Total EU land area is around 385 million      energy in 2010 much more will need           agricultural management and land use.
hectares. Forests and woodlands cover         to be done both to exploit the existing      Integrated production of wood and
137 million hectares and crops 178.5 mil-     bio-energy resources and to establish        biomass could be introduced where
lion hectares. Once the requirements of       new ones. It is estimated that by 2010 it    the trees are thinned to maximise the
the food, wood products and paper sec-        should be practicable to mobilise about      value of the wood produced and the
tors have been met, the biomass resourc-      1.5 EJ a year of the EU’s unused wood and    thinnings used for biomass. Increased
es from these trees and crops could pro-      agricultural residues. New resources in      areas of land could be used for culti-
vide around 8 EJ energy a year – about        the form of energy crops could provide       vating energy crops, i.e. short rotation
11% total annual EU energy consump-           a further 2 EJ a year – about 60% (1.2 EJ)   forestry or non-wood crops.
tion. In practice, we are exploiting less     as solid biomass for heat and power and
                                                                                           Finding the land for growing energy
than a quarter of the available resource.     40% (0.8 EJ) as liquid biofuels.
                                                                                           crops is an important issue. Various
If biomass is to play its expected role in    Achieving this level of bio-energy           woody and non-woody plant species
achieving the EU target for renewable         exploitation will require thoughtful         are available that are suitable for dif-

     Heating values of various types of biomass

                                                                                              data are given because actual yields
      Biomass type                                Higher heating value in GJ/tonne
                                                                                              depend on land type and climate. From
      Dry lignocellulosic                         18
                                                                                              the information in the table it can be
      Wet cellulosic                              9                                           seen that to achieve the 1.2 EJ a year
      Oils and fats                               36                                          solid biomass mentioned earlier in
      Ethanol                                     26                                          2010 would require something like 6.3
                                                                                              million hectares land. This is little more
                                                                                              than the 5.7 million hectares set aside
     ferent qualities of land. In recent years,    subvention of 45 euros per hectare can     in the EU in 2001. In that year, only 0.9
     surplus food production in the EU has         now be given for energy crops for a        million hectares of the set aside were
     led to cropland being left fallow. In         guaranteed area of 1.5 million hectares.   dedicated to non-food crops. It should
     2001, for instance, as much as 15% (i.e.      In addition, fallow land can be used for   not be difficult to increase that figure in
     5.7 million hectares) of the EU-15 crop-      energy crops.                              the future.
     land was under voluntary set-aside.
     Other options may exist, such as grow-        Table 1 gives an idea of the crop and      The following sections discuss the dif-
     ing non-food crops. Recent reforms of         energy yields that can be expected         ferent resources in more detail.
     the EU’s agricultural policy encourage        from different types of woody and non-
     production of energy crops. An extra          woody energy crops. Ranges of yield

     Table 1: Crop and energy yields from some energy crops

      Crop                                                     Yield (dry tonnes/hectare/year)      Energy yield
      Woody crops

      Wood                                                     1-4                                  30-80
      Tropical plantations
                                                               2-10                                 30-180
      (with no fertiliser and irrigation)
      Tropical plantations (with fertiliser and irrigation)    20-30                                340-550

      Short rotation forestry (willow, poplar)                 10-15                                180-260

      Non-woody crops

      Miscanthus/switchgrass                                   10-15                                180-260

      Sugarcane                                                15-20                                400-500

      Sugarbeet                                                10-21                                30-200

      Rapeseed                                                 4-10                                 50-170

     (Source: UNDP World Energy Assessment)

Wood is a renewable raw material             resource available from forests and          establish effective logistical systems
that can be used not only for making         woodlands for energy production con-         for harvesting, recovering, compact-
timber-based products, pulp and paper        sists of residues. In the EU, woody resi-    ing, transporting, upgrading and stor-
but also as a source of energy.              dues are estimated to have the poten-        ing the wood. Harvesting and trans-
                                             tial to provide 3.8 EJ energy annually.      port, in particular, can have significant
In traditional professionally-managed
                                                                                          impacts on energy balance and costs.
forests, the normal life cycle of the tree   For certain species, the use of short-       The trend is to move towards greater
includes plantation, a stage of rapid        rotation techniques can reduce the           mechanisation of harvesting for rea-
height growth followed by a stage of         life cycle of the tree to 3-15 years. Thus   sons of economy and safety. Because
steady growth in diameter, height and        plantations dedicated to short-rotation      firewood and forest residues are low-
volume. The point of harvesting de-          forestry can provide an important addi-      value commodities, transport costs
pends on the species but it is gener-        tional source of woody biomass for en-       constitute the most important part of
ally reached after 30-80 years. Twenty-      ergy purposes. The species most com-         total production costs. Care must be
five to forty-five percent of the wood         monly used in this way include poplar,       taken, therefore, to choose an appro-
harvested each year is in the form of        salix, willow and eucalyptus.                priate method of transport and locate
residues, i.e. the wood from forestry
                                                                                          the conversion plant as near as possible
thinning and the residues from felling.      The key to creating an economic ener-
                                                                                          to the woody biomass source.
Therefore most of the woody biomass          gy-from-woody-biomass scheme is to

Non-woody energy crops
The non-woody plants most often used            and grasses can be processed together          efficiency of the farm. The advantages
for energy purposes are wheat, barley,          with manure or waste to obtain biogas          of energy crops over food crops are
rye, sugarcane, sugarbeet, leguminous           for heat, electricity or fuel. Oil crops can   that they do not require the best land
plants (e.g. alfalfa or lucerne), grass (e.g.   be used to produce biodiesel.                  and need significantly less care, water
miscanthus and switchgrass) and oil             There are also plants which can be             and fertilisers. This is because it is the
crops (e.g. rapeseed). Many other spe-          processed to give liquid biofuels and          quantity, rather than the quality, of the
cies have been studied with respect to          cellulosic materials simultaneously. An        product that is important.
agronomy, yield optimisation, harvest-          example is sweet sorghum which yields          As discussed earlier, it is estimated that
ing, storage and processing. These in-          both bioethanol and dry cellulosic ma-         it should be possible for some 2 EJ
clude high-yield fibrous plants such as          terial for other bio-energy use.               energy a year to be produced in the
giant reed (arundo donax) and a form
                                                Some of the plants listed above are pe-        EU from new woody and non-woody
of globe artichoke (cynara).
                                                rennials. Others are annuals. All can fit       energy crops by the year 2010.
These plants can provide biomass                into conventional agricultural practice.
suitable for direct combustion or ther-         Cultivating crops for energy use does
mochemical or biological conversion.            not preclude a farmer from growing
Wheat, barley, rye, sugarcane and sugar         food crops as well – or vice versa. Food
beet, for instance, are generally con-          and energy crops can usefully be grown
verted to ethanol. Leguminous plants            hand-in-hand to maximise the overall

     Agricultural residues and by-products
     As indicated above, the residues from        that only about 20% of total straw can
     forestry thinning and felling constitute     be used for energy purposes, to ensure
     a major biomass resource. To this must       that the demands of the agricultural
     be added the different types of residue       sector and other markets can be ful-
     and by-product that come from process-       filled. Animal manure is another useful
     ing wood, e.g. sawdust, bark chippings,      resource coming from the farming sec-
     wood shavings, plywood residues and          tor. Together, these resources have the
     black liquor. (The latter, a by-product of   potential to provide the EU with 6.75 EJ
     paper manufacture, can be burned or          energy a year – 56% from wood residues
     gasified to produce fuels for transport.)     and by-products, 8% from straw, 25%
     Residues from the harvesting and pro-        from other crop residues, and the rest
     cessing of food and other crops – cere-      from animal manure. It should be prac-
     als, sugarcane, tea, coffee, rice, cotton,    ticable to mobilise 1.5 EJ of the 6.75 EJ
     rubber trees, coconut palms – are also       potential annually by 2010.
     important. It should be noted, however,

     Marine biomass
     Plankton, algae and other marine-based
     organisms constitute a biomass resource
     that has not yet been exploited. This area
     is, however, the subject of continued re-
     search. Bearing in mind the volume of
     the sea, this resource could provide a
     major carbon-neutral source of energy
     for the future.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) is primar-        flicting claims on the different streams.
ily waste produced by domestic house-         In general, for wastes with a high energy
holds although it also includes some          content, the major part will be used for
commercial and industrial wastes that         power and heat production. Incinera-
are similar in nature. Each EU citizen pro-   tion offers one route for doing this. In
duces on average more than 500 kg of          2002 there were approximately 340
MSW a year. The total MSW resource in         incineration plants in the EU handling
the EU is therefore of the order of 225       between them 50 million tonnes waste
million tonnes a year.                        a year. Recent installations tend to be
                                              efficient in generating power or produc-
The organic fraction of MSW has a sig-
                                              ing combined heat and power. Another
nificant heat value. Typically, MSW has a
                                              option is to convert the waste to solid,
heat value of 8-12 MJ/kg, about a third
                                              liquid or gaseous fuels that can be more
the heat value of coal. A tonne MSW will
                                              easily transported and used to produce
give about 2 GJ electricity.
                                              heat or power or to drive vehicles.
Decisions on whether to use MSW as an
                                              The biodegradable part of MSW can be
energy resource are linked to local and
                                              used to produce compost or digested
national waste management policies
                                              along with other suitable wastes to give
and the views of the public on, say, recy-
                                              biogas. Biogas is another useful source
cling and incineration.
                                              of energy. It can be recovered from land-
The choice of MSW treatment for a par-        fill sites or produced by digesting not
ticular locality must take into account,      only parts of MSW but also sludge from
among other things, the composition           sewage treatment, livestock manure and
and properties of the input waste, the        suitable agricultural and agro-industrial
available technologies, and the market        effluents. It has been estimated that the
for the various outputs. The whole pro-       total energy content of all the above
cess must be integrated to avoid con-         resources capable of producing biogas

                                                                                          in the EU exceeds 3.35 EJ. It should be
                                                                                          possible to mobilise 0.63 EJ of this a
                                                                                          year by 2010 and 0.75 EJ a year by 2020.
                                                                                          Actual production in the EU-25 in 2004
                                                                                          was 0.17 EJ – 24% higher than in 2003.
                                                                                          Biogas is largely methane – one of the
                                                                                          greenhouse gases. More widespread ex-
                                                                                          ploitation of biogas would also be in line
                                                                                          with European environmental policy
                                                                                          since it would reduce emission of meth-
                                                                                          ane, a powerful greenhouse gas, to the

Biomass conversion
Except for cases where straightfor-         the processing of woody residues into      be used to drive a motor or a fuel cell.
ward combustion is appropriate, it is       bundles, pellets and chips, the cut-       The bio-oil can be further transformed
not usually possible to use biomass         ting of straw and hay into pieces, and     into gaseous and liquid fuels.
raw materials as they stand. They have      the squeezing of oil out of plants in a
                                                                                       Fermentation and digestion are ex-
to be converted in some way to solid,       press are all examples of mechanical
                                                                                       amples of biological processes. These
liquid or gaseous fuels that can be used    processes. Such processes are often
                                                                                       use microbial or enzymatic activity to
to provide heat, generate electricity or    used to pre-treat a biomass resource
                                                                                       convert sugar into ethanol, or biomass
drive vehicles. This conversion is gener-   for further conversion. They are there-
                                                                                       to solid fuels or biogas.
ally achieved by some type of mechani-      fore discussed, where relevant, later
cal, thermal or biological process.         in this brochure in conjunction with       The following sections highlight some
                                            other methods of conversion, or when       major thermal and biological conver-
Mechanical processes are not strictly
                                            describing the final products.              sion processes.
conversion processes since they do
not change the nature of the biomass.       Combustion, gasification and pyrolysis
They are commonly used in the treat-        are examples of thermal processes.
ment of woody biomass and waste.            They produce either direct heat or a
The sorting and compaction of waste,        gas or oil, such as bio-oil. The gas can

     Thermal processes
     Processes where biomass conversion          Factors to be considered when de-          of biomass. Finally, the char oxidises,
     is achieved by heat are the most            signing a biomass combustion system        leaving ash. The technical aspects of
     commonly-used technologies.                 include the characteristics of the fuel    heating and large-scale combustion are
                                                 to be used, environmental legislation,     discussed in more detail in the section
     Combustion                                  the cost and performance of available      on heat and power production from
                                                 equipment, and the output required.        biomass, below.
     Combustion is the most ancient and
     frequently-applied way of using bio-        During combustion, a biomass particle
     mass as an energy source because of its     first loses its moisture at temperatures
     low cost, ease of handling and high reli-   up to 100°C using heat given off by
     ability. The biomass can either be fired     other particles. Then, as the dried par-
     directly (as when firewood is burned for     ticle heats up, volatile gases contain-
     heating or waste is incinerated) or co-     ing hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide
     fired with fossil fuels. Modern coal-fired    (CO), methane (CH4) and other gas-
     plants are increasingly being designed      eous components are released. In the
     for co-firing in order to reduce carbon      combustion process, these gases con-
     dioxide emissions.                          tribute about 70% of the heating value

Thermochemical processes

The basic thermochemical processes           substances that may act as catalysts.       low-molecular weight fragments, many
are gasification and pyrolysis. Both          At one extreme, processes can be opti-      of which combine to form char. Hot char
processes involve heating the feed-          mised to produce charcoal. At the oth-      will react with steam to produce carbon
stock in the presence of less oxygen         er, they can be designed to produce a       monoxide and hydrogen, giving a gas
than is required for complete com-           mixture of hydrogen and carbon mon-         with a high heating value. Some of the
bustion and produce a mixture of gas,        oxide (synthesis gas) suitable for use in   low-molecular weight compounds may
liquid and char. Yields of the various       the catalytic formation of a variety of     be swept from the reactor, recombining
outputs depend on the nature of the          liquid fuels.                               to form tars as they cool. Fine particles
biomass used, the rate of heating, the                                                   of ash and partly carbonised biomass
highest temperature reached, the way         In pyrolysis, an external source of heat    may also be carried in the gas stream.
in which off-gases react with hot sol-        is used with no oxygen. Heat causes the     For these reasons, the gas requires ad-
ids, the amount of water (as steam)          biomass molecules to break down to          vanced cleaning before it can be used
and the presence or absence of other         form water (steam) and highly-reactive      in a combustion engine or turbine.

Fast pyrolysis is a high-temperature         Liquefaction is a low-temperature,          used because this would lead to a prod-
process in which small particles of bio-     high-pressure thermochemical conver-        uct of high heating value consisting
mass are heated rapidly in the absence       sion process carried out in the liquid      mainly of carbon monoxide, hydrogen,
of oxygen causing them to decompose          phase which has the potential to pro-       methane and carbon dioxide. However,
to give vapours, aerosols and some           duce high quality products. It requires     most biomass gasifiers use air for costs
char. After cooling and condensation, a      the use of either a catalyst or hydrogen    reasons so the output is diluted with ni-
dark viscous liquid (bio-oil) is obtained.   under high pressure.                        trogen and therefore has a lower heat-
It has a heating value about half that of    Gasification is a high-temperature ther-     ing value. Whichever process is used
conventional fuel oil and can substitute     mochemical process carried out under        the product can, after appropriate treat-
for the latter in combustion systems or      conditions that lead to a combustible       ment, be burned directly or used in gas
engines for heat or power generation.        gas, rather than heat or a liquid. Mod-     turbines or engines to produce electri-
Further processing of the oil by hydro-      ern gasifiers can use a large variety of     city or mechanical work. The process
genation or using a catalyst will give a     feedstocks. The process involves partial    can be varied to give a hydrogen-rich
higher-quality product close in specifi-      combustion of the biomass feedstock         gas or synthesis gas which can be used
cation to petroleum-derived fuels oils.      with a restricted supply of air or oxy-     to make other fuel products.
This product can be used in diesel-fired      gen at temperatures in the range 1200-
vehicle engines.                             1400°C. Ideally, pure oxygen would be

     Gas cleaning

     This is a critical step in both combus-
     tion and gasification systems. The aim
     is to reduce emissions in flue gases,
     reduce the level of damaging contami-
     nants (e.g. hydrogen sulphide and mer-
     captans) in biogas and landfill gas, and
     remove particles and tars from gas gen-
     erated by chemical processes. A wide
     range of techniques is available, in-
     cluding: gas scrubbing with water and
     chemical solutions; filtration, electro-
     static precipitation or use of cyclones
     to remove particles; use of molecular
     sieves or chilling to remove water and
     other impurities; and use of iron, calci-
     um or zinc oxide or chemical reduction
     to remove sulphur compounds. In par-                                                        Biomass gasifier (Courtesy of Güssing)
     ticular, tars may be cracked by passing
     the gas stream back through the gasifi-      be used to reduce levels of carbon di-    industry. They may not, however, be
     er bed, or through a second stage, with     oxide. Most of these processes are com-   economically feasible when applied to
     external heating. Scrubbing with water      mercially viable when used on a large     small biomass-based facilities.
     or various proprietary liquids may also     scale, as they are in the petrochemical

Non-thermal processes
A number of processes are available          react together to generate methane,
which use some type of biochemical           in methanogenesis. Millions of small
process, rather than heat, to achieve        anaerobic digesters have been built in
biomass conversion.                          rural areas worldwide with methane
                                             generation as their primary aim.
In anaerobic digestion, a process
which takes place in the absence of          Fermentation is one of the oldest
oxygen, a mixed population of bacteria       biological processes used by mankind.
catalyses the breakdown of the poly-         It normally uses yeast (an organism
mers found in biomass to give biogas.        which secretes catalytic enzymes) to
This primarily consists of methane and       initiate chemical reactions that lead
carbon dioxide but may also contain          to the desired outputs – ethanol and
ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and mer-          carbon dioxide. Ethanol has a use not
captans, which are corrosive, poisonous      only for alcoholic drinks but also as a
and odorous. The process takes place in      solvent, additive and fuel. Bioethanol
several stages. First, polymers such as      as a transport fuel is discussed in more        Modern laboratory fermenter for use with
cellulose, starch, proteins and lipids are   detail later in this brochure in the sec-                      lignocellulosic feedstock

hydrolysed into sugars, amino acids,         tion on liquid biofuels. The main pro-      Breakdown of the biomass into useful
fatty acids, etc. These are then convert-    ducers are Brazil (which uses sugarcane     products can be speeded up by the
ed to a mixture of hydrogen gas, low         as feedstock) and the US (which uses        use of enzymes other than yeast. These
molecular weight acids (primarily acetic     corn). Some fuel alcohol is produced        enzymatic conversion processes are
acid) and carbon dioxide, in the process     in Europe using wheat, molasses and         mainly used for degradation of starch,
of acetogenesis. Finally, these products     petrochemical feedstocks.                   cellulose, proteins or lipids feedstocks.

     The biorefinery
     A biorefinery is defined as a facility for      the required specification for the differ-      In the immediate future, biorefinery
     achieving large-scale integrated pro-         ent applications. The final conversion to      products will not, as a rule, compete in
     duction of fuels, power and chemicals         energy, fuels, or other products is carried   costs terms with products made from
     from biomass. It is analogous to a petro-     out using a range of thermochemical and       fossil fuels. Rather, their main competi-
     leum refinery which produces multiple          biochemical processes – some of which         tive advantage comes from environ-
     fuels and products from petroleum. The        are already at a stage of commercial de-      mental sustainability. In particular, biore-
     possibility of integrated production of       velopment while others require further        finery products are near-neutral in terms
     a number of products from biomass is a        research and technological development.       of greenhouse gas emissions. Assessing
     concept that is gaining increased atten-                                                    the financial advantage this will bring in
                                                   A range of products is delivered with
     tion in many parts of the world. In the                                                     ten or more years’ time is very difficult.
                                                   multiple end uses, including: low-
     EU, the developments towards a car-
                                                   volume     and    high-value    speciality    For biorefineries to succeed, different
     bon-constrained economy and evolv-
                                                   chemicals that have niche uses in the         sectors of the economy – agriculture,
     ing agricultural policy make the idea
                                                   food and other industries; high-volume        forestry, agro- and wood-based indus-
     particularly interesting. No large-scale
                                                   and low-value liquid fuels for wide-          tries, chemical, food, transport and
     biorefineries exist at present but they
                                                   spread use in the transport industry;         energy industries – will need to coop-
     are regarded as being an important
                                                   heat; electricity, etc. The diversity of      erate to develop processes for making
     element in the future of biomass. Work
                                                   the products gives a high degree of           new biomass-based products and bring
     has been carried out in the EU, the US
                                                   flexibility to changing market demands         them to market. There is a need for ex-
     and elsewhere on the design and fea-
                                                   and allows the plant operators many           tensive research and technological de-
     sibility of such facilities. The concept is
                                                   options for gaining revenues and              velopment to test and prove the supply
     explored in the following paragraphs.
                                                   achieving profitability.                       of biomass feedstocks, the extensive
     A biorefinery is based on a number of                                                        range of biorefining technologies, the
                                                   In addition, there are economies of
     conversion processes.                                                                       end uses of the products, etc. Research
                                                   scale. Advanced conversion of biomass
                                                                                                 institutes and universities are therefore
     The biorefinery requires year-round sup-       (gasification, pyrolysis, etc.) has proved
                                                                                                 also important stakeholders. Policy-
     ply of biomass feedstock preferably of        costly to date. The large-scale operations
                                                                                                 makers, regulators, and law-makers will
     a specific quality. Possible sources of        conducted in the biorefinery offer cost
                                                                                                 also play an important enabling role in
     feedstock include agricultural crops and      savings by, for example, allowing pre-
                                                                                                 establishing the biorefinery concept.
     residues, wood residues and woody and         conversion feedstock treatment facilities
     non-woody energy crops. If supplies are       to be shared. A large-scale operation has     As discussed later in this brochure,
     of heterogeneous type and quality, the        greater buying power when acquiring           today’s hydrocarbon-based economy
     feedstock has to be mechanically sepa-        feedstocks: it can source biomass over a      could well evolve into a bio-based econ-
     rated into fractions and, where necessary,    larger geographical area and negotiate        omy where biorefineries play a very im-
     pre-treated to give interim products of       cheap long-term contracts.                    portant role.

Products from biomass
As explained above, biomass can be            ing combustion is used up in evaporating         NOx will also be formed at low tempera-
converted by a variety of processes to a      the water. For a fuel to be capable of be-       tures because of the presence of nitrogen
wide range of products – including heat,      ing ignited and having energy extracted          in the biomass itself. The quantity of NOx
electricity and solid, liquid and gaseous     from it, its moisture content must be            formed can generally be controlled by us-
biofuels. The following sections give         below 55%. The moisture content of bio-          ing appropriate combustion techniques.
more information on these products            mass sources ranges from less than 10%
                                                                                               Wood-based solid biofuels
and the ways in which they can be made,       for straw to 70% for forest residues and
supplied and used, and the current sta-       wet waste. The moisture content of bark          Wood is the most commonly-used solid
tus of their application in the EU. Solid     and sawmill products is in the range 25-         biofuel. The raw material can be in the
and gaseous biofuels are discussed first       55%. By contrast, the moisture content of        following forms: logs, stems, needles
because their main applications are as        processed wood pellets is less than 10%.         and leaves from the forest; bark, saw-
intermediates in the preparation of the                                                        dust and redundant cuttings from the
                                              Ash content is significant because it
other products, i.e. heat, electricity and                                                     sawmill; chips and slabs from the wood
                                              determines the behaviour of the bio-
liquid biofuels. At the end of this chapter                                                    industry; and recycled wood from de-
                                              mass at high temperatures: quantities
is a short note on biomass products that                                                       molition. These can be used directly as
                                              of molten ash can, for instance, cause
are not energy-related.                                                                        a fuel, where this is appropriate. Alterna-
                                              problems during combustion. The ash
                                                                                               tively, they can be processed into forms
                                              contents of biomass can range from
Solid biofuels                                0.5% for wood, through 5-10% for
                                                                                               that allow for easy transport, storage
                                                                                               and combustion such as chips, pellets,
Solid biofuels can be derived from            energy crops, to 30-40% for agricultural
                                                                                               briquettes and powder. Firewood is for-
many biomass resources such as wood           residues such as husks.
                                                                                               est fuel in the form of treated or untreat-
and wood residues and byproducts,             When subjected to heat, biomass de-              ed stem wood. A new technique that
agricultural crops and residues, and the      composes into volatile gases and char.           allows for easier handling is bundling,
combustible part of solid wastes.             The volatile matter content of a re-             where branches are pressed together
                                              source is described by the proportion            into log-like bundles of equal size.
The quality of solid biofuels
                                              that volatilises at 400-500°C. Typically,        Wood powder consists of ground wood
The quality of solid biomass as a fuel is     biomass has a volatile matter content of         raw material. Wood chips are pieces of
related to properties such as moisture        over 80%, compared with 20% for coal.            wood about 1-5 cm in diameter. Pellets
content, heating value, ash content and       The formation of nitrogen oxides (NOx)           are short cylindrical or spherical pieces
content of volatile matter.                   during combustion can be a particular is-        with a diameter less than 25 mm. Pellets
The higher the moisture content of a          sue with biomass fuels. When any fuel is         are produced from sawdust, cutter shav-
fuel, the lower its heating value. This is    subjected to combustion in the presence          ings, chips or bark by grinding the raw
partly because fuels with a high mois-        of air, some NOx will be formed as a result of   material to a fine powder that is pressed
ture content have, by definition, a lower      the reaction of the nitrogen in the air with     through a perforated matrix. The friction
content of combustible material. It is also   the fuel at temperatures above 950°C. In         of the process provides enough heat
because some of the heat liberated dur-       the case of biomass fuels, however, some         to soften the lignin present. During the

           Samples of pellets (Courtesy of BIONORM-project)                         Samples of briquettes (Courtesy of BIONORM-project)

     subsequent cooling, the lignin stiffens      panies would undoubtedly improve            Gaseous biofuels
     and binds the material together. Wood       the overall efficiency of the scheme.
     briquettes are rectangular or round         If, for instance, bulky materials with      The most commonly-used biofuels are
     pieces made by pressing together in a       a high moisture content have to be          biogas and hydrogen. Both are pro-
     piston press finely ground sawdust, cut-     transported far, the costs of using solid   duced from biomass wastes by bio-
     ter shavings, chips, bark, etc.             biofuels are increased considerably.        chemical processes.

     The energy content of pellets and bri-                                                  Biogas
                                                 Solid biofuels from agricultural
     quettes is around 17 GJ/tonne with a                                                    Chemically, biogas comprises a mixture
                                                 crops and residues
     moisture content of 10% and a density                                                   of hydrocarbons (mainly methane) and
     of around 600-700 kg/m . To replace oil,    It is possible to use many agricultural     other gases. It can be produced by an-
     one needs about three times its volume      crops and residues as solid fuels. Ex-      aerobic digestion of sewage sludge,
     in pellets.                                 amples are straw, husks, stalks, bagasse    grass and other ley crops, manure and
                                                 from sugarcane, and grass. Using these      agricultural and food wastes, including
     To use wood-derived biofuels instead
                                                 residues as fuels can in addition solve     those from slaughterhouses, restau-
     of fossil fuels is helpful from the view-
                                                 the problem of how to dispose of them.      rants, grocery stores, and wastes from
     point of aiding sustainability, reducing
                                                                                             the pharmaceutical industry. It can also
     greenhouse gas emissions and improv-
                                                 Solid biofuels from waste                   be extracted from landfills, where it is
     ing quality in forestry. Since the major
                                                                                             formed spontaneously and, if left, would
     users of solid biofuels are companies       As described earlier, the initial sorting
                                                                                             cause environmental problems since
     concerned with heat and electricity         of municipal solid waste results in the
                                                                                             methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.
     production, better integration of the       recovery of combustible solids which
     forestry industry with energy com-          can be used as fuels.

         (Courtesy of Energattert-Project)            (Courtesy of Energattert-Project)              (Courtesy of Energattert-Project)

Biogas production plants based on ag-        bilities for hydrogen in the Community’s     present) bacteria are able to convert
ricultural wastes can be found in the        future energy supplies. Its potential is     the biomass to hydrogen, biogas and
countryside in most EU member states.        thought to be considerable. Hydrogen         ethanol.
Their unique smell has given rise to the     is a clean fuel that does not emit any
                                                                                          Typical yields are in the range 0.6 to
unfortunate and untrue notion that bio-      greenhouse gases during combustion:
                                                                                          3.3 molecules hydrogen per molecule
mass is not a clean source of energy.        the remnant of combustion is pure wa-
                                                                                          of glucose, depending on the particu-
                                             ter. Hydrogen can be burned directly to
The availability of landfill as a source of                                                lar bacteria used. Thermophylic bacte-
                                             produce heat and electricity. It can be
biogas will, of course, vary from mem-                                                    ria that operate at temperatures up to
                                             used as a transport fuel. It also makes
ber state-to-member state according to                                                    70°C give higher yields than bacteria
                                             an ideal input for fuel cells where it is
national policies on the use of landfill as                                                that operate at ambient temperatures.
                                             converted directly to heat and power
a means of disposing of organic wastes.                                                   A typical chemical reaction is:
                                             with high efficiency. Further informa-
In some countries, landfill gas is recov-
                                             tion is given in the electricity section     C6H12O6 + 2H2O = 2CO2 + 2CH3COOH + 4H2
ered with fully industrial technologies.
                                             later in this brochure.
                                                                                          The yields can be increased further by
Frequently, biogas is used close to the
                                             Biomass is potentially an important          using phototropic bacteria that convert
place where it is produced. Its main ap-
                                             source of renewable hydrogen. Hy-            acetic acid to hydrogen, as follows:
plications are for production of heat,
                                             drogen can be produced from a broad
electricity and combined heat and pow-                                                    CH3COOH + 4H2O = 2CO2 + 4H2
                                             range of biomass sources containing
er. Further information on these are giv-
                                             carbohydrates, cellulose or proteins         As a rule, biological processes require
en later in this brochure. Biogas’s main
                                             using biological processes. Under an-        modest investments and are effective
advantage over other biomass-derived
                                             aerobic conditions (i.e. when no air is      even on a small scale.
fuels is that it can be burned directly in
any gas-fired plant. It can also be inject-
ed into the natural gas network.

In addition, biogas can be used as a
transport fuel for vehicles adapted to
run on gas. The environmental benefits
of replacing petrol or diesel by biogas
are considerable. However, although
the cost of biogas is significantly lower
than petrol per unit of energy, one has to
equip the vehicle with an extra gas tank.

The EU devotes part of its energy re-
search budget to exploring the possi-

     In 2002, around 1.6 EJ heat were pro-         space. Commonly-available appliances
     duced from biomass in the EU. The tar-        include fireplaces, heat storage stoves,
     get is to achieve some 2.6 EJ biomass-        pellet stoves and burners, and central
     derived heat annually by 2010.                heating furnaces and boilers for wood
                                                   logs and wood chips.
     Wood-based solid biofuels are the bio-
     mass sources most commonly used in            There is also a range of automatically-
     heat production. Combustion is the            operating appliances for wood chips
     normal conversion method. Tradition-          and pellets on the market.
     ally, of course, firewood was used for
                                                   The excellent handling properties of
     thousands of years to provide heat
                                                   pellets make them a good fuel for do-
     for domestic purposes, i.e. local heat-
                                                   mestic and other small-scale use. Good
     ing and food preparation. Today, the
                                                   automatic pellets-fuelled boilers with
     availability of biomass-derived fuels in
                                                   low emissions and high efficiencies                 Scheme of automated woodlog stove.
     clean and convenient forms (e.g. chips,                                                           (Courtesy of IEA Bioenergy Task32)
                                                   have been on the market for about 10
     pellets and briquettes) and of modern,
                                                   years now. Existing oil-fired boilers can
     automatically-operating      combustion
                                                   be adapted for pellets use by replacing
     equipment have created renewed in-
                                                   the existing burner by one constructed
     terest in the use of solid biofuels for
                                                   to take pellets. If this burner-boiler
     domestic heating. The use of liquid bio-
                                                   combination is well designed, an ef-
     fuels is also making headway for small-
                                                   ficiency of over 90% can be achieved,
     scale heating. For the commercial and
                                                   which is comparable to the efficiency
     industrial sectors, fixed-bed, fluidised-
                                                   of a modern oil burner. Changing an oil
     bed and dust combustion equipment
                                                   burner for a pellets burner – or replac-
     now available allow efficient produc-
                                                   ing electric heating with a pellet-burn-
     tion of heat from biofuels of different
                                                   ing stove – can be profitable. A pellets
     types and forms on the larger scale. Co-
                                                   boiler takes a little more effort to run
     firing of biofuels with coal is also practi-                                                 Two pellet boilers in a school in Denmark.
                                                   than an oil boiler because the chimney              (Courtesy of IEA Bioenergy Task32)
     cable. All these processes are discussed
                                                   has to be swept and the ash removed
     in more detail below.
                                                   a few times a year. Apart from this, the
     Pre-treatment                                 system is completely automatic and
                                                   therefore requires less effort than a tra-
     For domestic, commercial and indus-
                                                   ditional wood-fired boiler. Environmen-
     trial combustion equipment, it is ad-
                                                   tally, a good pellets burner is preferable
     visable to use solid biofuels that have
                                                   to a fossil fuel burner. Pellets burners
     undergone some form of pre-treat-
                                                   meet the demands of national and in-
     ment and processing (e.g. washing,
                                                   ternational eco-label schemes. Their
     drying, size reduction and compacting)
                                                   emissions are well below the building
     to achieve greater uniformity and ease
                                                   regulations requirements of most EU
     of handling and reduce the moisture
                                                   member states and will not contribute
     content to an acceptable level. This is                                                     Two 3.2MW grate furnaces for wood chips.
                                                   to the greenhouse effect. A further ad-               (Courtesy of IEA Bioenergy Task32)
     discussed in more detail earlier in this
                                                   vantage of moving from fossil fuels to
     brochure under solid biofuels.
                                                   biofuels for small-scale heating is that it
     Small-scale heating                           will help the rural economy.

     At the domestic level, appliances that        The use of liquid biofuels and blends of
     burn wood and similar biofuels are            these with liquid fuels for heating do-
     popular because they not only pro-            mestic properties is also gaining ground.
     vide heat but also help creation of a         Standards for biodiesel for heating ap-
     pleasant atmosphere and decorative            plications have just been put into force.

Large-scale combustion

The biofuels-based systems available        flexibility regarding fuels, although at-    the category of indirect co-firing.
for industrial and commercial heating       tention has to be paid to particle size.    One indirect system, known as a hy-
can be categorised under the headings                                                   brid system, uses 100% biomass firing
                                            Dust combustion systems are suitable
of fixed-bed, fluidised-bed and dust                                                      to generate steam. This steam is then
                                            for biofuels, such as wood dust, that
combustion and co-firing.                                                                mixed with the steam coming from the
                                            is in the form of small, dry particles. A
                                                                                        conventional coal-fired boiler for send-
Fixed-bed combustion includes grate         mixture of fuel and air is injected into
                                                                                        ing to the steam turbines for electricity
furnaces and underfeed stokers. Grate       the combustion chamber. Combustion
                                                                                        generation. A second type of indirect
furnaces, which generally have capaci-      takes place while the fuel is in suspen-
                                                                                        system involves burning the biomass in
ties up to 20MWth, are suitable for burn-   sion. Fuel gasification and charcoal
                                                                                        a pre-furnace and feeding the resulting
ing biomass with a high moisture con-       combustion take place simultaneously
                                                                                        flue gases into the existing coal boiler.
tent. Primary air passes through a fixed     because of the small particle size. Quick
                                                                                        In a third type, the biomass is gasified
bed where drying, gasification and           load changes and efficient load control
                                                                                        and the resulting combustible gas fed
charcoal combustion take place in con-      can be achieved.
                                                                                        to the coal combustion chamber.
secutive stages. The combustion gases
                                            Co-firing of biomass with coal in tra-
are burned in a separate combustion                                                     Emissions treatment
                                            ditional coal-fired boilers is becoming
zone using secondary air.
                                            increasingly popular, as it capitalises     Appropriate techniques exist for treat-
Underfeed stokers, which represent a        on the large investment and infrastruc-     ing all the emissions that emerge from
cheap and safe technology for systems       ture associated with existing fossil-fuel   biomass combustion plants. For large
up to 6 MWth, are suitable for biofuels     based power systems and at the same         installations, flue gas cleaning is eco-
with low ash content and small particle     time reduces the emission of tradi-         nomically viable. As explained in the
size such as wood chips, pellets and saw-   tional pollutants (sulphur dioxide, ni-     section on solid biofuels, NOx emissions
dust. The fuel is fed into a combustion     trous oxide, etc.) and greenhouse gases     can usually be controlled by appropri-
chamber from below by screw convey-         (carbon dioxide, methane, etc.). Up to      ate combustion techniques. Secondary
ors and transported upwards to a grate.     10% biomass can be added to nearly all      reduction measures to remove SOx are
                                            coal-fired plants without major modifi-       not usually necessary because biomass
Fluidised-bed combustion systems
                                            cations. Wood chips, willow chips, saw-     combustion does not yield as much of
are suitable for large-scale applications
                                            dust and organic waste are the forms of     these pollutants as does coal combus-
exceeding 30MWth in size. The biomass
                                            biomass most often used.                    tion. Solid ash and soot particles are,
is burned in a self-mixing suspension
of gas and solid bed material (usually      Co-firing is normally realised by what       however, emitted by biomass combus-
silica sand and dolomite) in which air      is termed direct co-firing, i.e. firing       tion. As these cause aerosol formation,
for combustion enters from below. The       the biomass and coal together in one        additional gas cleaning is required to
high heat transfer and mixing encour-       combustion chamber of the power             remove them.
age complete combustion. Fluidised-         plant boiler. However, a number of
bed systems allow a good deal of            other systems exist which come into

     In 2002, some 43 TWh (i.e. about 0.15 EJ)   Suitable steam engines are available
     electricity were produced from biomass      for electricity production in the range
     in the EU. The target is to achieve some    50kWe to 1MWe and steam turbines for
     162 TWh (0.58 EJ) biomass-derived           the range 0.5MWe to 500MWe.
     electricity annually by 2010. About a
                                                 The conventional steam turbine route
     third of this is expected to be achieved
                                                 has a number of disadvantages. For in-
     via biomass-based combined heat and
                                                 stance, the steam boiler has to be oper-
     power plants.
                                                 ated at high temperatures and there can
     The usual route for producing electric-                                                                            (Courtesy of EHN)
                                                 be erosion of the turbine blades due to
     ity from biomass has two stages. The        the presence of moisture. Turbogenera-
     biomass is converted to heat, which         tors that work on the Organic Rankine
     is then used in generation of electric-     Cycle (ORC) present a useful alterna-
     ity (or combined heat and power) us-        tive. The ORC is similar to the cycle of a
     ing technology originally developed         conventional steam turbine except that
     for conventional power production.          the fluid that drives the turbine is an or-
     A more modern approach, still at the        ganic fluid which can operate efficiently
     research stage, involves the use of fuel    at lower temperatures to produce elec-
     cells. The biomass is converted to hy-      tricity in the range 0.5MWe to 2MWe. The
     drogen, biogas or methanol which are        organic fluid operates in a closed cycle.
     then fed to suitable fuel cells, the out-   It is vaporised in an evaporator by an
                                                                                                                        (Courtesy of EHN)
     puts being heat and electricity. Further    external heat source (such as biomass-
     information on both is given below.         derived heat), The vapour expands in
     Biomass-based processes for                 the turbine and is then condensed and
     conventional power production               pumped back to the evaporator.               An example of biomass-based genera-
                                                                                              tion of electricity by a process similar
     In the simplest route, the biomass is       In a development which is applicable
                                                                                              to that used in conventional power
     converted to heat by combustion, the        to small-scale electricity production,
                                                                                              production is the straw-burning power
     heat used to produce steam, and the lat-    heat from biomass combustion is used
                                                                                              plant which went into operation in
     ter used to drive steam piston engines      as the external heat source for operation
                                                                                              Sangüesa, Navarra, Spain in 2002.
     or turbines. Basic information on the       of a Stirling engine. A 30kWe prototype
     conversion of biomass to heat is given      plant has been built which has achieved      With an installed capacity of 25MWe,
     earlier in this brochure. The subsequent    around 20% electricity efficiency in com-      it will, when operated for 8000 hours
     steps involve well-proven technologies.     bined heat and power production.             a year, consume 160,000 tonnes grain

straw and produce 720 TJ electricity. It   duction for heating purposes, normally
was designed to burn 100% grain straw      for district or industrial heating.
or 50% straw and 50% wood waste.           When biomass is employed as fuel for
Typical production costs for biomass-      CHP plants, the availability of a stable
based power were found to vary in 2002     and sufficient feedstock supply within
between 7 and 20 €cents, depending         a reasonable distance from the plant
on feedstock and country.                  is essential. The use of biomass in CHP
                                           plants is one of the best options for
Feedstock collection costs increase        achieving simultaneously increased                                   Hydrogen Fuel Cell
roughly with the square of the distance    bio-energy utilization and significant
from the plant. For this reason, the up-   reductions in emissions. Renewable en-
per size limit of a biomass-based power    ergy sources, mainly biomass, already       derived hydrogen, biogas or methanol.
plant lies somewhere between 30MWe         account for 13% of all fuel inputs to CHP   Information on methods of converting
and 100MWe. In general, they are below     in the older member states. In the new      biomass to these chemicals is given ear-
30MWe. This comparatively small size       member states the figure is just 1%, in-     lier in this brochure. Fuel cells require
favours their operation as combined        dicating that these countries have large    very clean fuels and are sensitive to cer-
heat and power plants (see below).         unexplored opportunities to increase        tain substances present in biomass, e.g.
These can meet the district heating and    their use of biomass fuels for CHP.         sulphur. Therefore the major problem
electricity needs of small communities.                                                to be resolved by the research relates
                                           Fuel cell processes                         to the gas and methanol purification.
Combined heat and
                                           A research topic which is currently re-
power production
                                           ceiving a good deal of interest is simul-
Combined heat and power (CHP) plants       taneous production of electricity and
use the waste heat from electricity pro-   heat by fuel cells driven by biomass-

     Liquid biofuels
     The major market for liquid biofuels is       els will depend to a large extent on how       sociated with liquid biofuels manufac-
     in the transport sector, although prod-       far the member states decide to take up        ture are good: around 16 jobs per 1000
     ucts have also been developed for di-         this option – or, indeed, introduce fiscal      tonnes biofuel can be created, mostly
     rect use in boilers and engines for heat      and support measures of other kinds.           in rural areas.
     and electricity production.
                                                   As a result of technological develop-          The following sections discuss some of
     In modern society, transport of people        ments carried out over the past few            the different types of liquid biofuel in
     and goods plays a significant role in          years, transport biofuels come in a            more detail.
     economic development, and requires            variety of types, notably bioethanol,
     increasing amounts of energy.                 biodiesel and synthetic fuels (biomass-        Bioethanol
                                                   to-liquid or BTL fuel). Biodiesel is already
     Currently, some 98% transport fuels                                                          Bioethanol, a colourless liquid, is the
                                                   well-known. BTL, on the other hand, is at
     used in the EU are petroleum-derived.                                                        most widely produced biofuel in the
                                                   the beginning of its development.
     At the moment, the only technically                                                          world with Brazil and the US being the
     viable way of using renewable energy          Manufacture is from agricultural re-           leading producers. In 2003, world pro-
     resources to reduce EU dependence             sources of different kinds – currently,         duction was 18.3 million tonnes. In the
     on fossil fuels in the transport sector is    grain, sugar, oil crops, etc. For the fu-      same year in the EU, 310,000 tonnes
     to increase the consumption of liquid         ture, processes are being developed to         were produced – some 17.8% of total
     biofuels. In 2004, the latter constituted     allow lignocellulosic biomass to be a          EU liquid biofuels production. (The
     close to 1% (corresponding to 2.4 mil-        major additional source. Yields vary ac-       major biofuel production in the EU is
     lion tonnes) of total EU petrol consump-      cording to feedstock: about 1.2 tonnes         biodiesel.) Despite the EU’s modest
     tion. However, production is growing at       bioethanol can be produced from a              production compared with other parts
     26% a year and there are already a num-       hectare of wheat and 4.1 tonnes from           of the world, steady growth has been
     ber of players in the EU liquid biofuels      a hectare of sweet sorghum. Generally          achieved in the last decade.
     market. The EU target is to increase the      speaking, production costs today are
                                                                                                  Bioethanol is mostly obtained by fer-
     share of liquid biofuels to 5.75% total       high compared to petroleum-derived
                                                                                                  mentation of sugar beet, sugarcane,
     petrol consumption by 2010. Liquid            products. It costs around twice as much
                                                                                                  corn, barley, wheat, woody biomass or
     biofuels can be used neat, or blended         to make a litre of biofuels compared to
                                                                                                  black liquor. Production is generally in
     with petroleum-derived products. The          a litre of petroleum-derived diesel (this
                                                                                                  large-scale facilities, such as those in
     possibility of using tax incentives to        ratio obviously depends on the price of
                                                                                                  Abengoa in Spain.
     encourage more widespread use of              crude oil), and it requires on average
     biofuels has been introduced into a EU        1.1 litres of biofuel to replace 1 litre of    Most of bioethanol production today is
     Directive. The future fate of liquid biofu-   diesel. The employment prospects as-           based on feedstocks from food crops.

For the future, lignocellulosic biomass      by 60-80% compared with pure petrol. A
is expected to be an important feed-         10% ethanol-90% petrol blend reduces
stock and its use would reduce com-          emissions by up to 8%. The exact figure
petition between the food and energy         depends on the feedstock used to make
industries for raw materials.                the ethanol; a 10% blend using ethanol
                                             made from sugar, for instance, reduces
Because the characteristics of lignocellu-
                                             harmful gases emissions by only 4%.
losic biomass differ from those of other
forms of biomass, technologies for bio-      Ethyl t-butyl ester (ETBE) is a biofuel,
                                                                                                              Biodiesel Plant Zistersdorf
fuels production have to be adapted for      made from bioethanol, with an octane                             (Courtesy of IEA Bioenery)
its use. Over the past 30 years, consider-   rating of 112 that can be blended with
able research effort has been put into        petrol in proportions up to approxi-
this area. The focus has been to produce     mately 17%. Methyl t-butyl ester (MTBE)
fermentable sugars from the lignocellu-      has similar properties.
losic material that can subsequently be
converted into ethanol.                      Biomethanol

Normal vehicles can run on a 15% blend       Biomethanol is similar to bioethanol
of bioethanol and gasoline. To use pure      but is much more toxic and aggres-
bioethanol, they need modification.           sive to the engine material. It can be
                                                                                                     Choren Plant (Courtesy of CHOREN)
Flexible fuel vehicles adapt automati-       produced from synthesis gas made by
cally to run on fuels ranging from pure      gasification of biomass.
petrol to a blend of 85% bioethanol-                                                       Biodiesel has the largest share of the
15% petrol known as E85. The additional                                                    EU’s liquid biofuels market: it accounted
costs of manufacturing such vehicles on      Chemically, biodiesel consists of methyl      for some 79.5% of EU total liquid biofu-
a mass scale, compared to normal vehi-       (or ethyl) esters of fatty acids. (This can   els production in 2004. Eight member
cle manufacture, amount to 150€ a car.       be abbreviated to FAME.)                      states have production facilities.

Using ethanol in vehicles is beneficial to    In response to its established market for     Biodiesel is produced by a chemical
the environment because the emissions        diesel engines, the EU is the principal       process – the esterification of fatty
from ethanol are cleaner than those from     region of the world with a developed          acids produced from vegetable oils.
petrol. A 85% ethanol-15% petrol blend       market for biodiesel. Growth rates have       Rapeseed oil is the most commonly-
can reduce greenhouse gas emissions          been 34% a year for over a decade.            used feedstock because as much as

     1-1.5 tonnes rapeseed oil can be pro-        converted to bio-oil by pyrolysis as de-        Other products
     duced per hectare of rape. However,          scribed in the section on thermochemi-
     sunflower oil or, indeed, used cooking        cal processes earlier in this brochure.         Any consideration of biomass as an
     oils are also used as feedstock.             This can be carried out in decentralised        energy resource would be incomplete
                                                  units close to the place of feedstock           without a reference to its use as a feed-
     Like bioethanol, biodiesel is manufac-                                                       stock for non-energy products. This
                                                  production. The bio-oil is then gasified
     tured in large facilities.                                                                   is touched on in the discussion of the
                                                  under high pressure (30 bar) and tem-
     Practically all diesel engines can run       peratures (1200°C to 1500°C) to a high          Biorefinery earlier in the brochure. A
     on biodiesel or blends of biodiesel          quality clean synthesis gas. Conversion         few more details are given here. A wide
     with normal diesel. Using recently-de-       of the latter to liquid fuel is carried out     range of chemicals and materials can be
     veloped additives it is also possible to     using a catalytic process known as the          derived from biomass. This includes the
     blend diesel with ethanol for use in         Fischer-Tropsch process that was origi-         traditional plant-based products – for
     trucks. Emissions of carbon dioxide, the     nally developed to produce liquid fuels         example, oils, starch, fibres, drugs – for
     major greenhouse gas, are 2.5 kg per         from synthesis gas derived from coal.           which there are already major estab-
     litre less for biodiesel than they are for                                                   lished industrial bases. It also includes
                                                  The first commercial plant for BTL-die-          many other possibilities. For instance,
     fossil fuel diesel. Emissions of hydrocar-
                                                  sel in the world is to be commissioned          lubricants made from biomass offer
     bons and soot are also lower for biodie-
                                                  in 2009 in Freiburg, Germany. The ca-           significant environmental advantages
     sel than for fossil fuel-derived diesel.
                                                  pacity will be 13000 tonnes a year.             over their fossil fuel-based counter-
     In addition, biodiesel releases fewer
     solid particles and, because it contains     Because of the high quality of the prod-        parts. Printing inks, polymer additives,
     no sulphur, does not create SO2 which        uct and flexibility regarding feedstocks,        and polymers can also be made from
     contributes to acid rain. NOx emissions,     BTL-fuel is set to made a major contri-         biomass. Linoleum, for example, can
     on the other hand, are somewhat high-        bution to the EU biofuels market in the         be made from linseed oil. Surfactants
     er because of the presence of nitrogen       future.                                         are another group of products capable
     in the biomass raw material.                                                                 of being made from biomass. Some or-
                                                  Bio-oil                                         ganic solvents can also be vegetable-
     Synthetic fuel (BTL-fuel)                                                                    derived as can some pharmaceuticals,
                                                  As indicated in the discussion on BTL-
                                                                                                  colorants, dyes and perfumes.
     BTL fuel is a short term for biomass-        fuel above, bio-oil’s main use is as a
     to-liquid fuel. Typical examples are         valuable intermediate for production            As indicated earlier, biomass has to be
     BTL-diesel and dimethylether (DME).          of other products. However, it also has         used wisely as an energy resource in a
     BTL-diesel has exceptionally good fuel       a direct application in boilers and fur-        way that allows optimal manufacture
     characteristics – high cetane index and      naces for heat production and in static         of other priority products – not only
     low sulphur and aromatics contents. It       engines for heat and electricity genera-        the chemicals and materials described
     meets all the standards for normal die-      tion. In the future, it may have an appli-      above, but also of food, wood products,
     sel fuel. DME is a fuel of diesel quality    cation as a source of hydrogen.                 paper and board, etc.
     with physical characteristics similar to
                                                  The yield of bio-oil from the solid biomass
     liquified petroleum gas (LPG).
                                                  feedstock is about 75%. Bio-oil is much
     An advantage of BTL-fuel is its flexibil-     cleaner than the fossil fuel-based original
     ity regarding feedstocks. It is produced     because it contains 100 times less ash. As
     in a two-step process involving, first,       a liquid, it makes a versatile energy carrier
     preparation of synthesis gas (a mixture      since it can be pumped, stored, transport-
     of carbon monoxide and hydrogen)             ed and burned without difficulty. Its en-
     from a biomass feedstock and, second,        ergy density is about 20 GJ/m3 compared
     conversion of the synthesis gas into         with 4 GJ/m3 for solid biomass.
     liquid fuel. The biomass feedstock is

Improving the prospects for bio-energy –
what the EU is doing
The previous chapters of this brochure       European Commission in its White Pa-       in the EU” published on 26 May 2003,
have described the potential that ex-        per “Energy for the future: renewable      the Commission analysed the state of
ists for using biomass as an energy re-      sources of energy”, COM(97)599, pub-       achievements in the individual sectors.
source in the EU. Many different types        lished in 1997.                            For biomass, it recognised that effec-
of biomass feedstock exist that can be                                                  tive use of bioenergy in the future will
                                             The objective was reinforced in 2000
converted by a diversity of routes to                                                   depend on appropriate interactions
                                             when it was recognised that increas-
useful products. Many of these process-                                                 between all related policies, such as
                                             ing the renewable energy share of the
es are already being exploited. Others                                                  those dealing with energy, agriculture,
                                             energy mix would help meet the goal
are currently being considered for pos-                                                 waste, forestry, rural development, en-
                                             set by the European Council of Lisbon
sible use. There is a will on the part of                                               vironment, fiscal affairs and trade. The
                                             that the EU should become the most
the EU and its member states to en-                                                     subsequent actions to encourage more
                                             competitive and dynamic knowledge-
able widespread production and use of                                                   widespread bioenergy use therefore
                                             based economy in the world. It was es-
biomass-derived energy in the future.                                                   encompass all these areas.
                                             timated at that time that, if renewable
Since 1997, the EU has had an objective
                                             energy were to contribute 12% of the       In July 2005, the Commission launched
of meeting 12% of its total energy re-
                                             energy requirements of the EU member       a four-year campaign to raise public
quirements from renewable energy of
                                             states, some 500,000 to 650,000 people     awareness on all aspects of sustainable
some kind and has recognised that the
                                             would be employed by the renewable         energy. This campaign aims to raise
most of the renewable energy share will
                                             energy sector.                             awareness of decision-makers at local,
need to come from biomass. In the pe-
riod since 1997, many steps have been                                                   regional, national and European level,
                                             The 12% target was further underlined
taken to support achievement of this                                                    spread best practice, ensure a strong
                                             in 2001 when the European Council of
target. Much highly-successful research                                                 level of public awareness, understand-
                                             Gothenburg agreed a strategy for sus-
has been carried out to develop and im-                                                 ing and support, and stimulate an in-
                                             tainable development and added an
prove processes, reduce costs, support                                                  crease in private investment in sustain-
                                             environmental dimension to the Lis-
the development of standards, etc. In                                                   able energy technologies.
                                             bon process. In its conclusions the 2001
addition, a good number of legislative       Council invited industry to take on the    Biomass will remain the EU’s main re-
measures have been put in place. Re-         development and wider use of environ-      newable energy resource for years to
cent analyses, however, have revealed        mentally-friendly technologies in sec-     come. The Commission is therefore
that development is still too slow for       tors such as energy and transport.         also bringing forward in 2005 a co-or-
the 12% objective to be met by 2010.
                                             In 2002, the idea that renewable energy    dinated Biomass Action Plan to secure
Further initiatives are therefore being
                                             could play a crucial role in sustainable   adequate supplies of biomass through
formulated. The following sections dis-
                                             development and climate change was         European, national and regional action.
cuss in more detail the political context,
                                             acknowledged at the world level in the     The plan will co-ordinate and optimise
the research and legislative steps that
                                             United National World Summit on Sus-       Community financial mechanisms, re-
have been taken in the last few years
                                             tainable Development held in Johan-        direct efforts within all relevant policies
to support the development and use of
                                             nesburg.                                   and tackle the obstacles to the deploy-
biomass for energy purposes, and the
                                                                                        ment of biomass for energy purposes.
challenges for the future.
                                             The European Commission is aware           In the light of the high and so far un-
                                             of the challenges that face the EU in      exploited biomass potential of many
Political context                            reaching the targets for renewable         of the new member states, the action
The goal of meeting 12% of the EU’s          energy use by 2010. In its communica-      plan will pay specific attention to these
energy requirements from renewable           tion to the Council and European Parlia-   countries.
energy was first introduced by the            ment “The Share of Renewable Energy

     Steps already taken

     Biomass has long been a subject of EU-     An idea of the extent of this exciting    projects were still ongoing. An analysis,
     funded research. For instance, the Fifth   portfolio can be obtained by looking      however, shows that important results
     Framework Programme for Research           at the 2003 publication European Bio-     are emerging and that the programme
     and Development (1998-2002) – FP5          Energy Projects 1999-2002, EUR 20808,     is contributing to a large degree to the
     – has supported all aspects of bio-        which can be seen on the Commission’s     improvement and development of the
     mass-related research, committing a        Directorate-General Research website      technologies discussed in this bro-
     total budget of 140 million euros. Over    at    chure. Full details of the project results
     a hundred projects have been car-          energy/pdf/european-bio-energy-proj-      will be obtainable through the Cordis
     ried out by consortia of partners from     ects.en.pdf. At the time of publication   website
     member states and other countries.         of the current brochure many of the

     A small sample of the many FP5 projects relevant to the discussions in this brochure

     In the area of biomass resources, the project Bio-energy chains for perennial crops in South Europe (BIO-
     ENERGY CHAINS) has been evaluating the performance of energy crops in an integrated bio-energy chain
     in order to identify the best options for bio-energy resources in southern Europe from the financial, social
     and environmental viewpoint. Four energy crops are being studied – miscanthus, switchgrass, giant
     reed and cynara cardunculus (cardoon) – in small and large fields in Greece, Spain and Italy. Preliminary
     findings show that the switchgrass, giant reed and cardoon are readily established while miscanthus is
     more sensitive to soil and climate. All four crops show combustion and gasification characteristics that are
     more similar to straw than to woody biomass.

     Among the projects on biomass conversion, the project Catalyst development for catalytic biomass flash
     pyrolysis producing promising liquid bio-fuels (BIOCAT) has been developing an innovative flash pyrolysis
     procedure involving the use of porous catalysts for converting various biomass feedstocks to high quality
     bio-oil without the use of external hydrogen, and testing the bio-oil in diesel engines and in the production
     of phenol-formaldehyde resins.

     Also in the area of biomass conversion, the project A new approach for the production of a hydrogen-rich gas
     from biomass: an absorption enhanced reforming process (AER-GAS) has been developing a new, efficient and
     low-cost single-step gasification process for conversion of a wide range of biomass feedstocks into a hydrogen-
     rich gas with a low tar content that is suitable for hydrogen fuel cell applications, fuel synthesis, etc.

     As indicated earlier, gas cleaning is a critical step in gasification processes. The project Degradation of
     tarwater from biomass gasification (DETAR) has been developing a process for treating effluents from
     cleaning the output gas of biomass gasification. The process involves supercritical wet gasification and
     oxidation, assisted by catalysts.

     If liquid biofuels are to gain ground in the domestic heating market, availability of suitable boilers will be
     essential. The project Application of liquid biofuels in new heating technologies for domestic appliances based
     on cool flame vaporization and porous medium combustion (BIOFLAM) has been developing a prototype
     boiler based on a cool flame vaporisation process coupled to a ceramic porous burner that can use 100%
     conventional heating oil or blends with <20% biofuels.

The potential benefits of co-combustion of solid biofuels along with coal in large-scale power stations
have been discussed widely. However, the biofuels can introduce significantly higher concentrations of
toxic metals into the combustion process. The project Reduction of toxic metal emissions from industrial
combustion plants – impact of emission control technologies (TOMERED) has been investigating emissions of
metals such as mercury during co-firing and developing control strategies for their reduction.

As explained earlier, most of bioethanol production to date has been based on feedstocks from food crops.
The ability to manufacture of bioethanol from lignocellulose would widen the usable feedstocks’ range.
The project Technological improvement for ethanol production from lignocellulose (TIME) has been working
to reduce the costs of bioethanol production by 10-20% in the medium- to long-term by improving the pre-
treatment, enzyme development and process integration of the lignocellulose-to-bioethanol route.

The importance of standards in developing the biofuels market is discussed later in this chapter. The project
Pre-normative work on sampling and testing of solid biofuels for the development of quality management
(BIONORM) has been established to support the work of the CEN Technical Committee concerned with
standardisation in the field of solid biofuels.

The current programme, the Sixth             - pre-normative research and standar-        On 6 April 2005, the Commission ad-
Framework Programme for Research              disation                                    opted a proposal for the Seventh Frame-
and Development (2002-2006) – FP6, is        - energy from bioresidues and energy         work Programme (2007-2013) – FP7. It
focusing on improving technologies and        crops                                       is designed to help realise the renewed
reducing costs. For the short term, the                                                   Lisbon objectives of building the know-
                                             - biomass fractionation processes for
programme is demonstrating new and                                                        ledge society and leveraging knowledge
                                              chemicals, energy and fuels (i.e. the
improved technologies for electricity                                                     and innovation for growth and jobs.
production and the production and pro-
                                             - new methods for cost-effective pro-         Even if at the time this brochure is pub-
cessing of liquid and gaseous biofuels.
                                              duction of clean biofuels for use in        lished the proposal is still under discus-
The main target for the medium to long
                                              combustion engines and fuel cells.          sion between the institutions of the EU
term is to reduce the costs of biofuels to
                                                                                          and the member states, it is clear that
10€/GJ (i.e. 36 €cents per kWh) by 2020.     A recent initiative, a technology platform   research efforts in the area of bioenergy
The work programme for the medium-           on biofuels that involves key players        will be given a priority.
to long-term research has the following      from agriculture and forestry, the chemi-
objectives and priority topics:              cal and oil industries, vehicle manufac-
- reliable and cost-effective gasification     turers, etc., aims at increased research
 systems                                     effort in this important area.

     Some large FP6 bioenergy projects

     Renewable fuels for advanced powertrains (RENEW) is an ambitious Integrated Project co-ordinated by
     Volkswagen, Germany. It is aimed at developing sustainable and efficient transport fuels. The work is being
     carried out by 31 partners from industry, academia and European associations. The cost target is 70 cents/
     litre gasoline equivalent. The emphasis is on products that can use the present distribution infrastructure.
     Wood, straw and energy crops are all being used to produce a spectrum of fuels including DME, methanol,
     ethanol and BTL using thermochemical and enzymatic conversion technologies. Two of the fuels (DME
     and BTL) will be produced at pilot scale for use in extensive motor tests by four leading European car

     Sixteen partners from 7 member states are collaborating in an Integrated Project Hydrogen from biomass
     (CHRISGAS), co-ordinated by the University of Växjö, to develop and optimise an energy-efficient and cost-
     effective method of producing hydrogen-rich gases from biomass. The process involves steam/oxygen
     gasification, followed by hot gas cleaning to remove particulates, and steam reforming of tar and light
     hydrocarbons to further enhance the hydrogen yield. The Växjö Värnamo Biomass Gasification Centre is
     being used as a pilot plant facility for the research work. The product gas can be upgraded to commercial
     quality hydrogen for use in fuel cells or converted to synthesis gas for further processing to liquid fuels
     such as DME, methanol or diesel.

     The Integrated Project New improvements for lignocellulosic ethanol (NILE), co-ordinated by IFP, France,
     aims at decreasing costs of enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulose using new engineered enzyme systems
     and removing constraints in the conversion of fermentable sugars to ethanol by constructing inhibitor-
     tolerant pentose-fermenting yeast strains. The centre of interest is on new enzymes and yeasts, e.g. those
     able to convert xylose to ethanol.

     Co-processing of upgraded bio-liquids in standard refinery units (BIOCOUP) is an Integrated Project co-
     ordinated by VTT, Finland. Involving 18 partners from 7 countries, it is aimed at developing a chain of
     process steps to allow a range of different biomass feedstocks to be co-fed to a conventional oil refinery to
     produce energy and oxygenated chemicals.

     BIOENERGY NoE is a Network of Excellence co-ordinated by VTT, Finland, that involves eight leading
     European bioenergy institutes. The aim is to achieve integration of the partners’ research and
     development activities to build a comprehensive bioenergy R&D centre that will help Europe build a
     world-class bioenergy industry.


     Both fuels and wastes are strictly regu-    - The promotion of electricity produced    - The promotion of biofuels or other re-
     lated in most individual EU member           from renewable energy sources (Di-         newable fuels for transport (Directive
     states. In addition, a number of Euro-       rective 2001/77/EC)                        2003/30/EC). This is the key EU text
     pean directives which relate in some                                                    in the promotion of carbon-neutral
                                                 - The limitation of emissions of certain
     way to biomass, its conversion process-                                                 fuels. It aims to raise the share of bio-
                                                  pollutants into the air from large com-
     es and products, are important for the                                                  fuels sold in the EU to 2% by the end of
                                                  bustion plants (Directive 2001/80/EC)
     whole Community. These cover:                                                           2005 and to 5.75% by 2010. Member
                                                 - A scheme for greenhouse gas emis-         states are required to report to the Eu-
     - The   landfill   of   waste   (Directive
                                                  sions allowance trading within the EU      ropean Commission each year on the
                                                  (Directive 2003/87/EC)                     measures taken to promote biofuels,
     - The incineration of waste (Directive                                                  and the share of biofuels placed on
      2000/76/EC)                                                                            the market the previous year.

- Restructuring the Community frame-           Challenges for the future                     and the work being carried out inter-
 work for the taxation of energy                                                             nationally through, say, bilateral efforts
 products and electricity (Directive           Despite all the achievements of re-           and the International Energy Agency
 2003/96/EC). This sets minimum rates          cent years, much has still to be done if      not only in biomass energy but also,
 of taxation for motor fuel for industrial     biomass is to play a significant role in       where relevant, in other areas of ap-
 and commercial use, heating fuel and          meeting the EU’s long-term needs for          plied biotechnology, materials, phar-
 electricity. It states that, for as long as   heat, electricity and fuels while reduc-      maceuticals and agriculture.
 Community law does not lay down               ing environmental problems through
                                                                                             The overall objectives of the future
 mandatory targets, member states              fewer emissions of greenhouse gases.
                                                                                             research should be to provide cost-
 may exempt biofuels from fuel taxes,          New energy crops, including marine            effective carbon-neutral fuels including
 or apply a reduced tax rate. Member           biomass, will need to be introduced.          renewable hydrogen. Of particular
 states’ decisions are for a maximum of        Increased areas of land will need to be       importance is the development of ad-
 six years (renewable).                        allocated for energy crop production.         vanced technologies which improve
                                               Biorefineries will need to be established      efficiencies,    enhance      technological
Legislation provides a solid base for reach-
                                               to allow integrated production of biofu-      integration, and widen the range of
ing the EU’s ambitious goals. In 2004, the
                                               els, high-value materials and chemicals.      usable feedstocks. Research topics
combined production of liquid biofuels in
                                               Biochemicals from lignin, and biohy-          that would improve the competitive-
the EU-25 was around 2.4 million tonnes/
                                               drogen from cellulosics are two exam-         ness with fossil fuels include, for exam-
year (80 PJ/year). If, however, the objec-
                                               ples. Investment and production costs         ple, halving of biomass-based power
tives of the biofuels directives above
                                               will have to be reduced. At the moment        generation costs, improving plant effi-
were achieved, the contribution of biofu-
                                               the costs of biofuels are up to two to        ciencies by use of combined heat and
els would increase by another 17 million
                                               three times the costs of petrol or diesel.    power, production of biofuels from
tonnes/year (796 PJ/year) by 2010.
                                               A biomass plant is more expensive than        lignocellulosic materials and improved
Standards                                      fossil fuel plant for heating by a factor     biochemical conversion processes us-
                                               of two. The differential between bio-          ing new bio-catalysts and enzymes.
Without standards there would be no
                                               mass and fossil fuels would be reduced
market rules to govern the composi-                                                          During the present standardisation
                                               by improved conversion processes and
tion and quality of biofuels – and con-                                                      work on solid biofuels considerable
                                               plant efficiencies and an increase in fos-
sequently there would be no market.                                                          gaps in knowledge have been identified
                                               sil fuel prices.
The existence of standards simplifies                                                         that are hindering the writing of stan-
communication between fuel suppli-             Research, including pre-normative re-         dards. It has been widely recognised
ers and customers, enables equipment           search, and policy adjustments all have a     that additional pre-normative research
and fuels to be designed for each other,       crucial role to play in meeting these chal-   is needed to remove obstacles to more
ensures that delivered fuel meets tech-        lenges. They are discussed briefly below.      widespread use of solid biofuels in the
nical requirements, provides users with                                                      EU. This includes, for instance, the de-
tools for determining the economic                                                           velopment of quality management sys-
value of delivered fuels, etc.                 The EU is already a leader in world           tems for the solid biofuels chain from
                                               terms in the scientific and technologi-        production to the final customer.
Development of European standards
                                               cal aspects of biomass resources and
for biofuels is carried out by the Euro-                                                     Policy development
                                               conversion. It has a high level of know-
pean Standards Organisation (CEN),
                                               how and a strong research base. How-          As explained earlier, use of biomass for
generally under mandate from the Eu-
                                               ever, the reinforcement of EU research        energy purposes depends on public
ropean Commission.
                                               efforts in strategic areas will be vital if    policies in the fields of energy, agri-
European standards for use of biodiesel        realisation of the full potential for bio-    culture, waste, forestry, rural develop-
as an automotive fuel and as a heating         mass is to take place. An integrated ap-      ment, environment and trade. For the
fuel were put into force in 2003. Stan-        proach will need to be developed that         biomass to take its anticipated place
dards are under development for bio-           includes sectors that could use and           as an energy resource in the future, the
ethanol for use in blends with gasoline,       increase the value of bio-energy and          interactions between these must be
and for some of the blends themselves.         biomass-based products. There should          carefully thought through. Community
Standards for solid biofuels are also be-      also be increased collaboration with          institutions will play a key role in imple-
ing formulated.                                member states national programmes             menting any needed adjustments.


Energy units conversion

                                  Petajoule (PJ)                    Megatonne oil equivalent   Gigawatthour (GWh)

Petajoule (PJ)                    1                                 2.388.10-2                 277.8

Megatonne oil equivalent (Mtoe)   41.87                             1                          11630

Gigawatthour (GWh)                3.6.10-3                          8.6.10-5                   1

Unit abbreviations

EJ                                    exajoule = 1000 PJ = 1018 J

PJ                                    petajoule = 1 million GJ = 1015 J

GJ                                    gigajoule = 1 billion J = 109 J

MJ                                    megajoule = 1 million J = 106 J

kWh                                   kilowatthour = 3.6. MJ

MWh                                   megawatthour = 1000 kWh = 3.6 GJ

TWh                                   terawatthour = 1000 MWh = 3.6 TJ

toe                                   tonne oil equivalent

Mtoe                                  million tons oil equivalent

MWe                                   megawatt electric power

MWth                                  megawatt thermal power

ha                                    hectare

km2                                   square kilometer


     The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the following persons and organisations.

     J. Stammers                 Consultant
     K. Maniatis                 European Commission, DG TREN
     A. Lappas                   CPERI CERTH
     I. Vasalos                  CPERI CERTH
     F. Seyfried                 Volkswagen AG
     M. Rudloff                   Choren
     M. Kaltschmitt              IE Leipzig
     M. Parikka                  Swedish Agriculture University
     P. Claassen                 Wageningen University
     C. Panoutsou                CRES
     R. Bendere                  Waste Management Association of Latvia
     W. Prins                    University Twente
     M. Sciazko                  Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal
     IEA Bioenergy Task 32
     IEA Bioenergy Task 36

European Commission

EUR 21350 – BIOMASS - Green energy for Europe

Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities

2005 – 46 pp. – 21.0 x 29.7 cm

ISBN 92-894-8466-7
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Contact the sales agent of your choice and place your order.
The brochure provides an overview of the current situation and future prospects for bio-energy in Europe
taking into consideration the overall picture and different uses of biomass resources.

The brochure explains the benefits of using biomass for energy purposes, the high-technology nature of
today’s processes and equipment, and the roles of research and policy-making in the full development of
this sector in the future.

The text is divided into three main chapters covering biomass resources, conversion processes and energy
products. The focus is on the European situation and, where appropriate, activities in other parts of the
world are also described. The final chapter presents what the EU is doing to improve the prospects for
bio-energy. It gives information on the political context of the EU actions, what has already been achieved
in terms of research, legislation, standardisation and the challenges for the future.

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