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Industry Panel

Friday, 3 December 2021

8:00 - 10:00 am UTC

Long term markets for biomass and biofuels

Bioenergy is sometimes considered as a transitional technology with mainly a short to medium term role, but it is clear that biomass and bioenergy also has a long term game in future carbon neutral operations in global economies.

This session considered the market point of view: how can biomass/biofuels play a role in carbon neutral operations of different sectors, such as aviation, logistics, refining and chemical industries, and contribute to markets for carbon credits?

This session was organized in collaboration with the CEM Biofuture Platform Initiative

Panel Debate

Dina Bacovsky, Unit Head Biofuels, BEST – Bioenergy and Sustainable Technologies, Austria
Gerard Ostheimer, Founder & CEO, Biofuture Workshop, United States


The Bio-based Substitution Challenge
Gerard Ostheimer, Founder & CEO, Biofuture Workshop, United States

Prospects of SAF in the aviation sector
Robert Boyd, Assistant Director, IATA International Air Transport Association, Switzerland

Prospects of renewable fuels in the maritime sector
Jacob Zeuthen, Senior Future Fuels Manager, Maersk, Denmark

Business leaders towards net zero operations
Rasmus Valanko, Managing Director, Systems Transformation, We Mean Business, Finland

Prospects of low-carbon fuels in the transport sector
Alessandro Bartelloni, Director, FuelsEurope, Belgium

Moving away from coal in Asia
Andrew Minchener
, General Manager, International Centre for Sustainable Carbon, United Kingdom



  • Company ambitions in terms of decarbonisation goals are growing fast, both in sectors which are relatively easy to transform (e.g. light industries, services), and in harder to abate sectors (e.g. aviation or heavy industries).
  • It requires a lot of efforts to educate stakeholders/sectors and make them join in decarbonizing, but once you´ve reached the tipping point it starts rolling. The We Mean Business Coalition currently counts over 3100 company commitments to net zero. The focus is currently moving from country roadmaps to how companies can handle the transition in practise.
  • In times of transition companies need to invest heavily, which makes them vulnerable. During this transition it is important to have a stable policy framework, also protecting transitioning companies from carbon leakage, i.e. when businesses transfer production to other countries with laxer emission constraints.
  • It will be really hard to decarbonize the economy in practice and there is growing recognition that we need to look beyond ‘simple’ solutions like sun and wind, which can’t solve everything. Bioenergy/biofuels can play an important role in the near term being largely compatible with current infrastructures. Nevertheless, it is commonly recognized that the role of biomass will evolve in the coming decades, e.g. towards sectors that are difficult to electrify. We will also get better in producing and mobilizing sustainable biomass feedstocks, so opportunities shouldn’t be downplayed.
  • Aviation industry recently committed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) will be the cornerstone of decarbonisation of the aviation sector, estimated to provide 65% of the required emission reduction in the sector by 2050. The evolution of SAF is expected to take place in three waves: (1) from waste fats and oils today; to (2) advanced SAF based on other biological materials in the medium term, to (3) power-to-liquids by mid-century (once there is excess renewable power). 
  • Several players in the maritime shipping area are taking steps towards decarbonisation. The lifetime of ships is typically 20+ years so it is important to consider the legacy fleet. The current maritime fleet largely runs on heavy fuel oil – drop-in biofuels can play an important role there, and don’t have to be high quality. Different new fuel options are explored in the sector, for example methanol, which requires investing in new ships. Moving to e-fuels is an option at the longer term, although this would require high availability of renewable hydrogen (replacing the current fuel consumption of the Maersk fleet by e-fuels would require more than 6 times the current power consumption in Denmark), as well as captured CO2.
  • The European refining sector also recognizes the need to transform in the next decades and move away from fossil fuels. Overall fuel consumption in transport will progressively go down, particularly from 2030, and for the remaining fuels low-carbon liquid fuels (LCLF) will progressively replace fossil fuels. An important share of the LCLFs will come from biomass – recent analysis at European level has shown that there is sufficient sustainable biomass potential to cover that (taking into account competing uses). Future refineries will be energy hubs where biomass, CO2, waste, renewable electricity and hydrogen are transformed to low carbon products, chemicals and fuels.
  • Asia is a key player in the global energy debate, and still a lot of coal and gas facilities are being constructed. Co-firing of biomass can be considered as a medium-term measure to reduce GHG emissions in the energy sector, and CCS also has high potential once it takes off. In several Asian countries there are large issues with agricultural residues, particularly the practice to burn them in the field, creating significant health issues. Using these residues for energy production creates opportunities to diminish coal use, reduce air pollution and provide socio-economic opportunities in rural areas.



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