12 Mai 2009

Benelux aiming for leadership in biobased economy

"Bio Base Europe" in Flemish/Dutch border region to combine biofuel and biomaterial industries with professional training

The Flemish minister Ceysens and the Dutch minister Van der Hoeven give the official kick-off for Bio Base Europe. The Flemish/Dutch initiative transforms the border region of Ghent/Terneuzen into the most important center for the biobased economy in Europe. Bio Base Europe will speed up the development of a sustainable biobased economy in Europe through technological innovation and training activities.

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Photo: Bio Base Europe

Bio Base Europe is a joint initiative of Biopark Terneuzen and Ghent Bio-Energy Valley. Both organisations have been stimulating biobased activities in the border region of Ghent/Terneuzen since quite some time. Contrary to what is often supposed, the biobased economy is more than just biofuels, but also deals with bio-colorants, bio-plastics, bio-chemicals and bio-detergents.

Open-innovation model
Bio Base Europe consists of two parts: a pilot plant for biobased products and processes, as well as a training center for process operators of biobased activities.

In the pilot plant, scientists will test how agricultural byproducts such as wheat straw, corn cobs, wood chips, Jatropha- and algal oils can be transformed into biofuels, bioplastics and other biobased products. Special attention will be given towards the scale-up of these processes to an industrial level.

The Pilot Plant is housed in a former fire department building at Rodenhuizekaai in the port of Ghent (B). It is housed in the immediate vicinity of the biorefinery complex of the Rodenhuize docks. In this biorefinery, the whole value chain from the green renewable resources to biofuels is present on a single site. The pilot plant will cost approximately 13 million euro and will go into operation in 2010. It will create employment for 35 people.

Prof. Wim Soetaert, responsible for the Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant: “The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant will operate according to the open-innovation model and is accessible for companies from all over Europe and from different sectors, such as the chemical, biotechnological and energy sector. With the pilot plant, we intend to create new possibilities for our industry that needs new and ambitious green projects.”

The initiative is welcomed by the sector federations. Frans Dieryck of Essenscia Flanders, the Flemish federation for chemical and life science industries, and Nelo Emerencia of the Dutch federation for chemical industries (VNCI): “The Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant will permit companies large and small to venture into the field of innovative biobased products. Bio Base Europe is a very important step towards a biobased economy and is essential for the Flemish and Dutch industry to stay ahead of the game in Europe and the world.”

Qualified personnel
The training center, consisting of an investment of 8 million euro, will be built in Terneuzen (Nl). Peter van den Kieboom, responsible for the Bio Base Europe Training Center: “We intend to train and educate process operators and technical maintenance specialists for the biobased economy.” Just like most industrial sectors, the biobased economy is experiencing a shortage in qualified personnel. With the training center, we intend to alleviate this need. The training Center will also house a network and information facility for the biobased economy and will become operational in 2011.

“With Bio Base Europe, the Ghent-Terneuzen border region positions itself at the forefront of the biobased economy in Europe. With the pilot plant and the training center, we now have all it takes to lead the development of a sustainable biobased economy in Europe”, say Marten Wiersma and Sas Van Rouveroij, chairmen of Bio Base Europe.

Biopark Terneuzen
Biopark Terneuzen, established in february 2007, is a ‘Smart Link’ initiative for agro-industrial sustainability. Biopark Terneuzen is an initiative by the province of Zeeland, Zeeland Seaports and the participating industrial parties. Centralizing related companies in one location results in knowledge transfer and economic advantage. Based on smart linking, Biopark Terneuzen will encourage and facilitate synergy between the partner companies. Byproducts and waste streams are exchanged and used as raw materials or as supplements to the utilities for their own processes. This contributes to the productivity, the conservation of non-sustainable energy sources and reduction of the impact on the environment.

Ghent Bio-Energy Valley
Ghent Bio-Energy Valley is supporting the development of sustainable biobased activities in the region of Ghent, Belgium. Ghent Bio-Energy Valley is a joint initiative of Ghent University, the City of Ghent, the Port of Ghent, the Development Agency East-Flanders and a number of industrial companies that are active in the fields of the generation, distribution, storage and use of bio-energy and biobased products. Ghent Bio-Energy Valley is a leading European initiative for the development of the biobased economy of the future. Ghent Bio-Energy Valley promotes the development of the biobased economy through collaborative programs, joint initiatives and synergy creation between the partners in the fields of Research & Development, structural measures and policy, logistics and communication towards the general public.

Further information
Bio Base Europe
Biopark Terneuzen
Ghent Bio-Energy Valley

Source: Bio Base Europe, press release, 2009-04-27.

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