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Catalysing the green chemistry industry across Europe

The bio-based economy will bring new sustainable job opportunities for citizens across Europe. However, some regions have little experience or knowledge of how to transition away from fossil fuels. The EU-funded POWER4BIO project is helping to share best practices and provide guidance, to ensure no region in Europe is left behind.

©Konstiantyn #126216129, source: 2022

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Green chemistry involves making use of renewable resources such as crops, forests and microorganisms to produce materials and energy. Bio-based products include bioplastics and biodegradable clothing, as well as bio-based fertilisers and chemicals. By moving away from our dependence on fossil fuels, we can better protect our biodiversity and environment.

This necessary transition towards using more renewable and sustainable materials still faces obstacles. The technologies and production techniques needed to make bio-based products must be efficient and cost-competitive in order to make it to market. They also need to be accessible to all regions. Many parts of Europe lack the expertise and knowledge to take full advantage of the bio-based revolution.

Making the transition

Addressing this challenge – and empowering regions to make the transition – was one of the principal objectives of the EU-supported POWER4BIO project. The project brought together 10 diverse regions from across Europe, to exchange lessons and best practices in how to develop a thriving bio-based sector. This could bring new sustainable job opportunities in fields such as forestry, aquaculture and green chemicals to local communities.

The geographical range of the collaboration was key to the project’s success, explains POWER4BIO project coordinator Marcelino Gallego, from the Spanish sustainable technology centre CIRCE. “This mix was extremely valuable, as it allowed regions with less developed bioeconomy strategies to learn from those with more experience.”

For example Germany, one of the partner regions, has a highly mature bioeconomy, with a key focus on agricultural residues, forest residues and feedstock from forest-based industries. Mazovia in Poland, on the other hand, has a bioeconomy maturity rated as medium-to-low.

Cross-regional visits and online events helped regional partners to share information, and to identify possible collaborative opportunities. The project also involved academics and local industry leaders, to try to find ways of encouraging more active citizen participation in the bioeconomy, and to raise public awareness of the economic and environmental benefits that this can bring.

A Bioeconomy Strategy Accelerator Toolkit (BSAT) was also set up. This details the steps that regional authorities should follow to develop a new bioeconomy strategy, or update their existing strategy. “The BSAT was applied to all 10 POWER4BIO regions,” notes Gallego. “Their experiences helped to shape the toolkit, and their input was very much appreciated.”

Spreading the knowledge

In total, nearly 2 000 stakeholders were involved in the project, including local authorities, academics and industry leaders. Moving forward, the tools developed – most notably the BSAT – will provide regions with the guidance they need to develop sustainable, inclusive and adapted bio-based economies. These will directly benefit citizens through the creation of new bio-based job opportunities and cleaner environments.

“We also developed several open online tools to help regions identify possible opportunities,” says Gallego. “For example, we uploaded a wide range of real-life biorefinery best practice cases. These cases included very detailed descriptions of biomass composition, conversion technologies and real market applications.”

For example, if a regional council was interested in finding out whether a biogas plant producing electricity would be suitable for their community, the catalogue provides clear information on the feedstock and technology required, the technology readiness of the solution, and the products produced. The same goes for solutions such as achieving biodiesel from vegetable oils, or even growing mushrooms on coffee residues.

Further recommended tools to support areas with less experience in developing bioeconomy solutions have also been made available. “Regional Bioeconomy Hubs have been set up in central and eastern European regions, where key regional stakeholders can collaborate to develop bioeconomy strategies for their regions,” adds Gallego.

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Project details

Project acronym
Project number
Project coordinator: Spain
Project participants:
Total cost
€ 2 969 893
EU Contribution
€ 2 969 893
Project duration

See also

More information about project Power4bio

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