Joint Research Centre - European Commission

The European Commission's in-house science service
European Commission

Quality and Performance of Biofuels

Institute for Energy

Action: 13105

Acronym: BioS


The Action deals mainly with four issues, all interconnected:

1. Greenhouse gas performance and cost of biofuels

The Action will take care of updating the biofuels- aspects of the JEC WTW study, inserting improvements in the existing pathways (especially the second-generation biofuels routes), and expanding to cover new biofuels pathways (biodiesel from palm oil, soya#) as well as pathways for comparing alternative uses of biomass (electricity, heat-and-power, bio-heat).

It will publish and justify a methodology for the assessment of GHG performance of different pathways to biofuels production and bioenergy. It will develop a simplified form to use as a basis for GHG certification for different biofuels processes in the implementation of biofuels policies.

Partners: CONCAWE, EUCAR, Biofuels and other trade associations, IES-Transport and Air Quality Unit (Tank to Wheel part of JEC Well to Wheel study), DG-TREN, IPTS, Imperial College (on GHG certification) and others.

2. Imported biofuels and feedstocks

The Action will contribute to a realistic assessment of the production potential and growth rate of major producer countries. This will include ethanol from sugar cane in Brazil and other major sugar producers, and oilseeds for biodiesel production in tropical countries such as Malaysia. In the longer term, assessments of lignocellulose biomass imports will be addressed. The assessment will take into account effects on use in the home market.

Regarding the environmental impact in developing countries, this component will analyse the environmental impact of biofuels/bioenergy production in developing countries based on the practical experience from countries such as Brazil and Malaysia. Specific attention will be paid to the methods of quantification of agro-environmental impact and to the consequences of possible land use conversion for carbon stocks, soil, water and biodiversity.

Partners: Iinternational Energy Agency IEA, Malaysian Palm Oil Council MPOC, Centre for Biomass of Brazil CENBIO, Wageningen University, Utrecht University, Oeko Institute, Heidleberg Institute for Environmental Research, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)#

3. Biofuels and bioenergy certification

The Action will monitor the development of biofuels/bioenergy certification systems, either at national or international, identify the main pending research issues and propose ad hoc solutions in view of practical implementation with a sound scientific basis. In particular, the Action will cooperate with ongoing initiatives at EU level, in European Member States (UK, Germany, Netherlands#) as well as at international level (Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil RTSPO, Better Sugar initiative BSI, Round Table on Sustainable Soy, Lausanne Round Table on Sustainable Biofuels RSB).

The Action will contribute to consensus building for the definition of bioenergy sustainability standards, and will discuss implementation mechanisms and verification procedures. Specific attention will be given to the analysis of data quality and accuracy. The possible links between existing certification standards and proposed schemes for bioenergy at national, European and international levels will be explored, as well as the links in Europe with Biomass Action Plans in preparation at national level.

Partners: DG-TREN, DG-ENV, RSB, RTSPO, BSI, RTS, European certification schemes.

4. Scientific-Technical networking in the field of bioenergy

The Action will develop its participation in scientific/technical networks on bioenergy either at JRC internal level (JRC Biofuels Task Force) or at international level with partners such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), OECD, European Environment Agency, UNEP and national institutions. In particular, the Action will develop technical links with International Energy Agency Bioenergy Tasks, specifically:

Task 30 Short Rotation Crops for Bioenergy Systems,

Task 29 Socio-Economic Drivers in Implementing Bioenergy Projects,

Task 38 Greenhouse Gas Balances of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems,

Task 40 - Sustainable International Bioenergy Trade: Securing Supply and Demand.

The Action will develop networking in the field of biofuels and bioenergy with European (AEBIOM, EREC, EBB#) and national partners (ENEA, CENER, CIEMAT, CEBIO#).