Growth Team: 2G products have great business potential

16.11.2012, Press releases

Denmark can become a growth centre of knowledge, technology and production in a sustainable European bioeconomy. Now is the time to move from demontration to industrial scale in the production of the plant sugars, which will be the basis of developing biobased susbstitutes for fossil resources. This is the ambition of the government Growth Team for Water, Bio and Environmental solutions, which just presented its recommendations.

Illustration: Flows in 2G biorefining. Here, we can get the highest value out of the biomass and reduce waste at the same time.

Director of BioRefining Alliance Anne Grete Holmsgaard is pleased about the growth team's recommendations on moving towards industrial scale within 2G biorefining:

- We think it is time to have serious discussions with the government on what kind of regulation is needed to make this happen. Biorefining needs like other renewable energy production political regulations, she says.

According to the growth team Denmark should focus on advanced biobased products - also called 2nd generation bioproducts (2G). Here, plant residues, garbage and other sustainable organic materials are used as resources unlike in 1st generation bioproducts where the edible part of food crops is used.

Since 2G biomass is harder than 1G biomass to refine more advanced technology is needed. Denmark is among the leading countries in 2G biorefining - and the growth team recommends that we take advantage of that.

- The Growth Team for Water, Bio and Environmental Technology has been very precise in its analysis of Danish strengths and potentials within bioeconomy, Director of BioRefining Alliance Anne Grete Holmsgaard says and continues:

- For example, the growth team is stressing socalled 'cascade utilisation' where is it possible to pull a number of 'building blocks' from the biomass like sugars, lignin, molasses and phosphate, which again can be used in the production of a number of products such as bioethanol, other chemicals, plasts, medicin and food ingrediens.
In that way we can get the highest value out of this limited resource, which biomass is after all, and minimize waste in the whole value chain. This is something Denmark is pretty good at, she says.  

The growth team is suggesting European regulation as a tool for creating a market for bioeconomy. This is expressed in its report in the three recommendations regarding biobased solutions:  

Recommendation 5: Prepare the supply chains for the market pull in the biobased economy.
A strategic approach to increase the supply of sustainable biomass from agriculture, forestry and the waste sector is needed. The government is encouraged to evaluate all relevant nature, environmental and energy regulations in order to remove barriers from Danish business development.

Recommendation 6: New bioproducts should be transferred from the lab to testing and market maturity. 
The possibilities for testing and market maturity of the next generation of biobased products including biochemicals, bioplast etc. should be improved. 

Recommendation 7: Over the threshold to industrial production
It is important to 'step over the threshold' from demonstration to industrial scale in the production of the plant sugars, which will be the basis of developing biobased substitutes for fosil resources. European demands on incorporating sustainable biofuels in transportation can create market pulls, but additional ways of increasing rentability should be examined, too. 

-If 2G products should be able to compete with the less sustainable alternatives it is necessary to create a market through political regulation. Here, compulsory incorporation of bioethanol in to gasoline is a crucial driver. Vi can do it on a national scale, but it will of course be even better if we did it on a European level, too, director Anne Grete Holmsgaard says.