The year is drawing to a close and the bustling working life is slowly being replaced by Christmas and a short breathing pause at the turn of the year. It is time to look back at an exciting year for the bio-based economy:
Food shortages at the world market, ILUC and food vs. fuel debates as well as the limitation of foodcrop-based biofuels to 5% have made the framework conditions harder for the biofuels industry. At the same time, petroleum and natural gas prices are falling due to new fracking technologies in the USA – bad news for the climate and the bio-based economy. On the other hand, the EU Commission is now starting in earnest to improve the framework conditions for bio-based product markets – the sector is highlighted as one of six key priority action lines with the greatest potential for delivering new products, increasing productivity and for laying the foundations for the reindustrialisation of the European economy. Next year, the Commission will present an overarching strategy and create “Bioeconomy Panels” and a “Bioeconomy Observatory Group”. In addition, markets for Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), including Industrial Biotech, are highlighted as another of the six priority action lines destined for greater uptake through member state technology policies and European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs). In order to provide more research funding for an increased competitiveness, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) has been successfully initiated, in which several medium- and large-sized companies of the European chemical industry are already participating (Sustainable Process Industry PPP (SPIRE) and Biobased Industries PPP). Numerous running research projects support the development of bio-based products up until their market maturity and market establishment; many more are in the process of being approved.
All of this gives reason for hope that a timely conversion of the resource basis is possible – away from limited and climate-damaging fossil-based materials towards a sustainable supply of biomass for the industry. Furthermore, it is already possible to put new pathways into practice: The use of CO2 as a feedstock for the chemical and the plastic industry (the so-called artificial photosynthesis).
As a Christmas present, nova-Institute has thought of something special this year: You can download the table World-wide Investments in Bio-based Chemicals that lists the most important investments that have been made in bio-based building blocks over the last seven years at www.bio-based.eu/policy. It is the most comprehensive list that has been recently published on this issue – free of charge for you! Comments and additions are very welcome and will be honoured with a free update!
Finally, I wish you relaxed holidays and a good transition into the next year. Take a few days rest from work – that is not only good for family and friends, but also for new ideas that always need a little distance from everyday routine.
Source: nova-Institut, 2012-12-04.