This, the third issue of the RENEWS Renewable Energy Newsletter, takes as its theme ‘Biomass research in Europe’. Biomass in its many forms and applications is already our main renewable resource of energy but it still has an enormous, untapped potential. We have chosen to focus on two of the most promising avenues of research in which we are currently engaged, namely biofuels and the bio-refinery concept.
Biofuels are already beginning to be used in commercial quantities, notably for transport, where the Commission’s Liquid Biofuels Directive has set ambitious targets rising from 2% this year to 5.75% of biofuels for transport by the year 2010. The bio-refinery concept has great potential as an efficient and cost-effective way to process biomass into biofuels, combined with the manufacture of high added-value materials and chemicals, and other forms of energy such as heat and electricity. Bio-refinery is only now beginning to move from the conceptual phase through to the inception of the first EC projects to research into the process technologies, and their system integration. This wide-ranging concept brings a significant multi-disciplinary dimension to the research, and requires the close involvement and collaboration of researchers and industry, from SMEs to multinationals.
As I write this, we are already engaged in preliminary preparations for the seventh Framework Programme. Even at this early stage, a place is foreseen for research into both biofuels and the energyproducing bio-refinery, along with the other forms of renewable energy sources where research is needed to overcome the main problems of cost competitiveness and effective integration into the overall energy mix. I am an optimist as regards a sustainable future in which renewable energies will play an important part, and I expect that we will give appropriate support to research devoted to this area in the seventh Framework Programme.
Pablo Fernández Ruiz
Director for Energy
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