On November 6, 2018, Novozymes published a report describing our vision for net-zero emissions energy systems. The report – “Bridging the gap to a sustainable future” – highlights how biorefining is an essential part of the solution and invites stakeholders to work together to address climate change. It is available at novozymes.com/bioenergy
Need for a pragmatic yet radical vision
Climate change is a serious and growing threat to our world. We need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions drastically – and fast. A key sector facing challenges in terms of decarbonization is transportation. This sector accounts for 25% of energy-related GHG emissions – a share that is only expected to grow in the coming decades.
“Bridging the gap to a sustainable future" describes how biorefining addresses three key challenges routinely identified by observers of the climate debate.
Challenge #1: There is no silver bullet to reach net-zero emissions
Solution: The optimal solution is a mix of green energy technologies. Biorefining is key to this mix – not only because its products are sustainable but also on account of its unique synergies with other green technologies. For instance, carbon-neutral electrification of transport holds great promise as a solution, but it cannot succeed on its own in the time we have to mitigate climate change. Biofuels are needed to achieve sufficient carbon emission reductions across all transport segments.
Biorefineries also complement other types of renewable energy generation. For example, coproducts from biorefineries such as lignin and biogas can supply electricity to balance intermittencies in a renewable energy grid.
Challenge #2: There is no crystal ball to determine the extent and speed at which different technologies will succeed in the future
Solution: Accurate prediction is not needed as long as the future energy system can adapt to market needs. In this context, biorefining is valuable because of its ability to adapt its outputs over time to meet future requirements for fuel and materials. Today, biorefineries primarily produce liquid fuel for passenger cars, but in the longer term they can be adapted to cater to other segments such as shipping, aviation and other applications, including biochemicals.
Challenge #3: There is a need for negative emissions to meet the international climate targets
Solution: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights the need for negative carbon emissions as soon as possible to keep the temperature rise below 2°C. Biorefining offers one of the easiest and cheapest forms of achieving negative emissions. The fermentation process emits a CO2 stream that is relatively clean and concentrated, thereby enabling its cost-efficient capture and storage.
A future built on partnerships
The full potential of this transformative vision can only be achieved through collaboration. “We urge industry, government, financial institutions and research organizations to accelerate the continued development and deployment of sustainable synergistic technologies in biorefining through collaborative efforts and long-term policies,” says Thomas Schrøder, Vice President, Biorefining.