Biorefineries - cornerstone of sustainable bio-based economy

October 23, 2006

Brussels, 20 October 2006

Green energy and bioproducts are solid alternatives to fossil fuels and products made from oil, in the short to medium term. The large-scale transformation of biomass into a wide range of end-products will take place in biorefineries. A conference organised by the European Commission with the support of the Finnish Presidency on 19-20 October in Helsinki (Finland) unveils industry and research perspectives of current and future biorefineries.

"This biorefinery conference is a great opportunity to build the momentum for upgrading our oil-based society to a society that is based on renewables" says Commissioner for Research and Science Janez Potocnik. "Biomass is the renewable energy source that can contribute most to the energy needs of Europe in the short to medium term. The Union should be able to increase its production in integrated biorefineries. But all participants in the chain - farmers, forest owners, industry, regulators and consumers - will need to get together to make this bio-economy work".

Biomass: our oilwells of the future

One of the main energy policy targets of the EU is to accelerate the use of biomass and in particular increase the share of transport biofuels in the market.. The idea behind the biorefinery concept is to maximise the value derived from biomass by using all its components to produce transport fuels, heat and electricity, and value-added chemicals and materials that are normally produced from oil, such as adhesives, paints, lubricants, plastics, cosmetics, etc. Biorefineries can be build-up from existing processing facilities (sugar, grain, pulp and paper mills, also oil refineries with additional biomass input, etc) by adding new steps to expand both their raw materials and output products range. Since biorefineries will help decrease our dependency on fossil fuels, boost rural development and decrease CO 2 emissions, they are seen as a very promising route to meeting our aims for sustained prosperity and preserving the environment.

Europe leads the way

Europe is considered world leader in biomass gasification technologies to convert woody biomass into synthetic biofuels EU funded biorefinery research in stretches back over 15 years and has already brought into the worldwide market several innovative renewable bioproducts such as biodiesel, bioplastics, biocoatings, biolubricants, and fine chemicals. Several world-class pilot plants that turn woody biomass and biodegradable waste into ethanol are operational, with EU support.

For further information please contact:
Julia Acevedo Bueno, Press and Information Officer, Research Directorate General, European Commission. Tel: +32 2 295 2043; Fax: +32 2 295 8220; E-mail:
Maria Fernandez Gutierrez, Scientific Officer Energy Programme, Research Directorate General, European Commission. Tel: + 32 2 298 7676; Fax: +32 2 299 4991; E-mail:
Piero Venturi, Scientific Officer Biotechnology Programme, Research Directorate General, European Commission. Tel: + 32 2 2956100; Fax: +32 2 2963333; E-mail:

Conference programme EU's Sixth Research Framework Programme (FP6)

Preparations of the next European Research Framework Programme (FP7, 2007-2013, FP7)

Technology Platforms

Finnish Presidency website

DG Research
Item source

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