This project is expected to have the following impacts:
Industrial and agricultural policies:
- Improving the security of energy supply by increasing the competitiveness of renewable energy based technologies
- Increased economical growth due to improved competitiveness of European bio-energy sector
- Creating new markets and products for bioindustry
- Increased opportunities for the agricultural sector
Environment and sustainable development:
- Reduced CO2 emissions
- New environmentally benign bioprocesses replacing ecologically less sustainable processes
- Improved energy efficiency and integration of the novel process
- Increased use of RES and contribution to the EU White Paper
For 2020-30, a gasoline demand of about 140 million tons in Europe has been forecasted. If the biofuels have to provide 20% of the demand, the estimated production of biofuels should be around 30 Mtoe. For 2010, the corresponding policy target is 18 Mtoe for the transport sector. The European Environmental Agency has recently estimated the biomass potentials in the EU25 from 2010 to 2030. More than half is expected to derive from waste and residues from both agriculture and forestry and about 25% is expected from agricultural energy crops. It is estimated that between 4 and 13% of the total agricultural land in the EU would be needed to produce the amount of biofuels to reach the level of liquid fossil fuel replacement required for the transport sector in the Directive 2003/30/EC. Thus, the agricultural waste products, such as straw, and dedicated energy crops represent a considerable biomass potential and a raw material target for bioconversion processes.
The development of biofuels in the transport sector has a strategic impact on key environmental issues, such as climate change and global warming and on local pollution in compliance with the Kyoto commitment. It will also enhance European security of energy supply thus reducing oil dependency and help sustainable rural economic development. Europe has a leading position in the production of biodiesel whereas the production of bioethanol is still low compared to North America and Brazil.
Ethanol as fuel
The role of ethanol may be as an intermediate term alternative fuel, but a higher share of liquid biofuels in gasoline will depend on the development and commercialisation of new 2nd generation biofuels. Ethanol is especially interesting in short to medium term because it can be used as a blend with gasoline, either directly or as ETBE, in the existing vehicles and distribution systems. It can also be used as E85 in FFV vehicles and as neat fuel in city buses to improve the quality of life in urban areas. This project aims at accelerating the commercialization of second generation ethanol from agricultural residues by designing and realizing a radically new process concept. Development of lignocellulosic ethanol is necessary for the EU to achieve the goals of the use of biofuels for transport.