The ADVANCEFUEL project, which is coordinated by FNR, has held its third stakeholder workshop at the European Biomass Conference and Exhibition (EUBCE) in Lisbon, on 27 May 2019, with more than forty stakeholders from the biofuels value chain.
The workshop, ‘Optimising value chains and ensuring the sustainability of advanced lignocellulosic biofuels with effective sustainability criteria and verification’, gave stakeholders the chance to comment on the project’s work in seeking to create harmonised sustainability standards for advanced biofuels.
The participants were welcomed by Kristin Sternberg (FNR), the co-ordinator of ADVANCEFUEL, who stressed the importance of sustainability criteria in the market uptake of second-generation biofuels.
Ric Hoefnagels, of Utrecht University, continued by presenting ADVANCEFUEL’s work in biofuels sustainability. He explained the ADVANCEFUEL goals regarding the sustainability assessment of the RESfuel production along the entire value chain. For this work indicators are applied, which are related to those used by certification schemes and tailored to the specificities of liquid advanced biofuels. Ric highlighted that the project will eventually provide recommendations for the harmonisation of existing (and future) national and voluntary sustainability criteria.
Renewable Energy Directive
The revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) was a key topic of the event. It sets criteria for sustainable biofuels, but a study by ADVANCEFUEL has shown that most existing voluntary schemes are already more ambitious and complete. There is therefore a need to boost the ambition of RED II if the biofuels market is really to grow, though member states also need support in implementing criteria at a national level.
This was supported by Patrik Klintbom, chair of the European Technology and Innovation Platform (ETIP) Bioenergy, who presented the ETIP Bioenergy viewpoint on RED II in the following presentation. To support the market of renewable transport fuels, there needs to be an EU-wide approach – which involves support measures, finance, and targets – to avoid national fragmentation, he stated. He further referred to the Indirect Land use Change (ILUC) Delegated Act as a key piece of the puzzle, but noted that implementation needs to be harmonised across the EU if it is to be effective.
The next speaker, Sascha Wüstenhöfer, from International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) presented their approach to certification, covering every stage in the biomass value chain, from production through to end use. He made the audience aware of the numerous challenges involved in the changeover from the REDI to REDII framework, including different speeds of transition and different levels of ambition in member states.
A national perspective regarding the implementation of the afore mentioned criteria was given by Loes Knotter from the Dutch Platform for Sustainable Biofuels. She pointed out that a major concern is the current rather negative public perception of biofuels. In order to change this situation, she gave examples of national campaigns, demonstrating that biofuels can be sustainable if linked with sustainable practices in agriculture and forestry, maintaining healthy soils, and working with smallholders and local communities, rather than large industrial farms.
The speakers were then joined by Philippe Marchand (formerly of Total), Marko Janhunen (UPM), and Ingvar Landälv (Fuels & Energy Consulting) for a lively panel discussion. The audience used this opportunity to ask specific questions and for providing their own views on various controversial subjects addressed during the workshop.
Participants also discussed the reliability of certification schemes, and the challenge of potential fraud across the value chain, which could cause significant reputational damage. Regarding the robustness of sustainability criteria, the stakeholders discussed that we cannot wait for the perfect criteria to emerge; instead we must consistently adapt criteria as more evidence on biofuel performance emerges, though this could cause significant uncertainty for those looking to invest in the industry.
The workshop concluded that environmental sustainability criteria are needed, and consumers universally regarded them as being essential for acceptability. It was nevertheless also agreed that there is still significant scope for considerations of economic and social sustainability as well as regarding the harmonised approach in translating the sustainability regulations into national law.
Pictures from the event are available in the media section of the ADVANCEFUEL website.
Text by by Simon Hunkin and Kristin Sternberg, ADVANCEFUEL