Task 40

Sustainable International Bioenergy Trade - Securing Supply and Demand


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Upcoming event in May 2016


Latest publication in May 2016


Ongoing projects


11 member countries


News 2016



Event: Workshop: Technical Requirements for Torrefied Biomass, Rotterdam 25-26 January 2016

News 2015



Event: IEA Bioenergy Conference 2015, 26-29 Oct 2015


Reports: Country reports 2014


Event: Workshop Biomass Trade and Supply in a Global Bio-Based Economy, 5-6 May 2015


Event: Workshop Biomethane International, 12nd International Conference on Biofuels, Berlin, 19-20 January 2015

News 2014



Event: International workshop: Towards sustainable international biomass trade strategies, Brussels, 24 Oct 2014


Report: Ecological sustainability of wood bioenergy feedstock supply chains: Local, national and international policy perspectives


Report: Biomethane - Status and Factors Affecting Market Development and Trade


Reports: Impact of promotion mechanisms for advanced and low-iLUC biofuels on markets


Event: Workshop - Biomass trade and supply system opportunities in a world-wide bio-based economy, Jonkoping, Sweden, 4 June 2014


Event: Workshop - Torrefaction of biomass, Graz, Austria, 17 Jan 2014

Book: Developing the Global Bioeconomy: Technical, Market, and Environmental Lessons from Bioenergy

This book brings together expertise from three IEA-Bioenergy subtasks on pyrolysis, international trade, and biorefineries to review the bioenergy sector and draw useful lessons for the full deployment of the bioeconomy. Despite the vast amount of politically driven strategies, there is little understanding on how current markets will transition towards a global bioeconomy. The question is not only how the bioeconomy can be developed, but also how it can be developed sustainably in terms of economic and environmental concerns. To answer this question, this book’s expert chapter authors seek to identify the types of biorefineries that are expected to be implemented and the types of feedstock that may be used. They also provide historical analysis of the developments of biopower and biofuel markets, integration opportunities into existing supply chains, and the conditions that would need to be created and enhanced to achieve a global biomass trade system that could support a global bioeconomy. As expectations that a future bioeconomy will rely on a series of tradable commodities, this book provides a central accounting of the state of the discussion in a multidisciplinary approach that is ideal for research and academic experts, and analysts in all areas of the bioenergy, biofuels, and bioeconomy sectors, as well as those interested in energy policy and economics. Download the summary or purchase the book.

Report: Possible effects of torrefaction on biomass trade

Low-cost preconditioning technologies of raw biomass that can convert and modify different sources of solid biomass into a specification-driven bioenergy feedstock with similar or even better characteristics as coal could greatly enhance trade and usage of biomass in the existing transportation and conversion infrastructure. A mild pyrolysis process called torrefaction stands out as a very promising technological option, attracting significant interest and financial resources for further technological development and commercialization. Torrefaction is these days on the verge of commercialisation. Beside a sheer volume of scientific studies, engineering initiatives not only a number of demonstration plants but now also first commercial plants are in operation respectively construction. The torrefaction technology seems to have left the valley of death behind, not without losses only in the adventurers but even in respectable companies and investors, and the current development leaves little doubt that this technology will find its way into the biomass-to-energy value chain in the next years. This study focuses on the possible effects torrefaction may have on future international biomass trade. Download the report here.

Report: Cascading of woody biomass: definitions, policies and effects on international trade

Cascade use or “cascading†of woody biomass is increasingly being discussed as a key principle upon which to base efficient utilization of wood, especially in the European Union (EU). Cascading does not have one universal definition, although a common theme is that “material use of wood should be prioritized over energy use of woodâ€, which forms the basis for our analysis herein. This working paper aims to inform the debate on cascading through an analysis of the terminology around cascading, and a review of how the concept is framed and implemented in policies of the EU and selected member states. It also discussed potential implications on international bioenergy markets from implementation of the cascading principle. Download the report here.

Past event: Workshop: Technical Requirements for Torrefied Biomass, Rotterdam 25-26 January 2016

These workshops, co-organised by IBTC and Task 40 with the support of AEBIOM, are a unique opportunity for participants to develop a better understanding of fuel requirements and fuel possibilities in terms of sourcing, processing and consumption of biomass - to allow adjustments on both ends, resulting in an increase of biomass traded for energy.

The workshops will be organised as “Open Space†events, a highly effective method to facilitate self-organised group discussions. It strongly encourages interaction and it is an ideal way to set the scene for a complex topic. A lively discussion shall trigger a better understanding of the market needs and help the product to fulfill them. It will also support the establishment of a network of cooperation.

Who should attend? Torrefied biomass fuel producers, boiler manufacturers, gasification companies, heating and cooling equipment suppliers, logistics companies, biomass traders and many more. The workshop on the 25th targets professionals interested in small to medium applications while the workshop on the 26th concerns industrial applications such as co-firing in pulverised coal boilers. For full programmes and more information click here.

Past event: IEA Bioenergy Conference 2015 - Realising the world's sustainable bioenergy potential, Berlin, 26-29 October 2015

Under the auspices of the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Christian Schmidt, the bioenergy conference of the International Energy Agency (IEA) will take place from 26 to 29 of October 2015 in Berlin. The conference offers information on the latest developments in the bioenergy sector to experts from industry, academia and policy making. Under the slogan “Realising the World’s Sustainable Bioenergy Potential†you can expect over 40 lectures and four field trips covering ten thematic fields.

At the IEA Bioenergy conference in October, Task 40 has hosted a workshop on 27 October 2015 to discuss lessons from international bioenergy trade for the development of bio-based economy and their implications. The workshop has attracted about 100 attendees, not only from European countries but also from outside Europe such as Canada, US and South Korea. It offers information on bioenergy trade, particularly from the aspect of standardization, sustainability and logistics. This covers the latest development in technical standardization and sustainability certification of liquid biofuels, biogas and solid biomass, as well as opportunities and challenges in terms of logistics. All presentations are available here.

Past event: Workshop - Examples of Positive Bioenergy and Water Relationships, Stockholm, Sweden, 25-26 August 2015

The Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) brings together public, private and civil society stakeholders in a joint commitment to promote bioenergy for sustainable development. GBEP Activity Group 6 (“Bioenergy and Waterâ€) aims to identify and disseminate ways of integrating bioenergy systems into agricultural and forested landscapes for improving sustainable management of water resources, including waste water. This includes sharing knowledge and experiences on landscape identification and design, best management practices as well as on policies and instruments supporting bioenergy implementation that contributes positively to the state of water. With the support of the IEA as a GBEP partner, IEA Bioenergy Task 43, assisted by Task 40, is co-chairing the Activity Group and contributing to the work defined in the workplan.

In this framework, GBEP Activity Group 6 launched the Call for Examples of Positive Bioenergy and Water Relationships. This initiative aims to showcase innovative examples of how bioenergy systems (in both the feedstock production and conversion phases) can produce positive impacts on the status of water and to serve as a way to inspire and build on this knowledge and experience with other bioenergy producers.

The submissions received in response to the Call for Examples were reviewed by the Activity Group and the most relevant among them were selected to be presented at this workshop organized by GBEP and IEA Bioenergy, in collaboration with the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA) and Chalmers Energy Area of Advance, in Stockholm (Sweden). The workshop was broadcasted on the web and a dvd will be made available by GBEP, also a web link for direct streaming if technically feasible. A report that documents all submissions received in response to the call will be published later this autumn/winter. See Workshop agenda. To view details on the call for examples of positive bioenergy & water, see here.

For more information, contact goran.berndes@chalmers.se.

Report: Country reports 2014

Task 40 has compiled new country reports for the year 2014. These country reports identify domestic biomass resources in each member countries, and their current use, trends, and main users. They also highlight policy support and expected biomass use in 2020 (and beyond). In addition, the reports present the status of international biomass trade for energy and biomass prices. Finally, drivers, barriers and opportunities of international bioenergy trade are also discussed. The latest reports: Austria| Brazil| Denmark| Finland| Germany| Netherlands| Norway| Sweden| US.

The 2014 Canadian country report was also published by CanBio. While Canada is currently not a member of IEA Bioenergy Task 40, the information is presented in a similar format as previous country reports from Canada, and may be of interest for the international bioenergy trade community, as Canada is a major exporter of wood pellets. However, please note that IEA Bioenergy task 40 has not reviewed the study and is not responsible for the content. Download Canada country report.

Past event: Workshop Biomass Trade and Supply in a Global Bio-Based Economy, Sassari, Sardinia, Italy, 5-6 May 2015

Many governments across the globe have defined national 'bioeconomy' strategies. However, it remains unclear how the current economy will shift towards a future bioeconomy where chemicals, materials, transport fuels, and other high-value products are derived from non-food materials. Under the banner of "Biomass Trade and Supply in a Global Bio-Based Economy", IEA Bioenergy Tasks 40 and 42, together with the European Commission funded project DiaCore, have hosted a workshop on May 5 in Sassari, Italy. Draft findings of a recent Intertask study between Tasks 34, 40, and 42 as well as results of DiaCore on the same topic were presented, and the viewpoints of policy makers and representatives from the biofuels, biopower, and logistics industry were discussed. The workshop also included a site-visit to the MATRICA Biorefinery (a Versalis-NOVAMONT joint venture). The individual presentation can be downloaded here, or all presentations in a zip file here.

Past event: Session "Visions for bio-energy trade in the Baltic Sea region in a ten year perspective", at Conference Nordic Baltic Bioenergy, Riga, Latvia, 15 April 2015

Bioenergy commodities are increasingly subject to international trade. But how will this trade develop in the Nordic Baltic region in the coming ten years, and what are the driving forces? Will biogenic raw materials, woodchips, pellets and liquid biofuels be important sources of income to producers and traders in the North European region? IEA Bioenergy Task 40 has organised a conference session about bioenergy trade on at Conference Nordic Baltic Bioenergy, Riga, Latvia. The session has gathered speakers from Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Latvia and the Netherlands. The presentations will be available on Task 40 website soon. More information is available here. Presentation of Martin Junginger and Anders Evald are available here.

Others: "Development in the global trade of wood pellet" by US International Trade Commission

In this report by US International Trade Commission, four Task 40's reports are cited. For the US report. Note that it is interesting for global trade community but that it was not reviewed by Task 40.

The production and trade of wood pellets as a renewable energy source have increased significantly since 2008. The U.S. has become a major producer and exporter of wood pellets, primarily to the European Union (EU). Demand for wood pelle ts in the EU has been driven by policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and increase the use of renewable energy. Many European power producers have converted, or are in the process of converting, coal-fired electric generating plants to biomass i n the form of wood pellets to meet the EU's target of 20 percent renewable energy use by 2020. Wood pellet demand is also increasing in Korea and Japan as those countries also seek to increase use of renewable energy. This paper provides an overview of trends in the global demand for wood pellets and recent developments influencing wood pellets trade. The report is available here.

Task 40's reports cited:
Global Wood Pellet Industry Market and Trade Study - 2011.
Low Cost, Long Distance Biomass Energy Supply Chains - 2013.
Survey on governance and certification of sustainable biomass and bioenergy - 2013.
Task 3: Impacts of sustainability certification on bioenergy markets and trade - 2013.

Past event: Workshop Biomethane International, 12nd International Conference on Biofuels, Berlin, 19-20 January 2015

On 20 January 2015, the 4th “Biomethane Internationalâ€-Session was carried out within the conference “Fuels of the Future†in Berlin. The current event was organised in close cooperation between the DBFZ and the IEA Bioenergy Task 40. The session was chaired by prof. Dr. Daniela Thrän. The aim was to address international experts and stakeholders from economy, science and politics. In total, approximately 40 experts joined the session while presentations were held by international experts from five countries. They provided insight in the global and national status and trends for biomethane production and trade. The workshop summary is available here. The presentations are also available here

Past event: International workshop: Towards sustainable international biomass trade strategies, Brussels - 24 October 2014

Today in the European Union, the cost-effective achievement of existing and future bioenergy targets set in the legislation implies that in addition to using domestic sustainable and cost-competitive biomass potentials, European markets will also (partly) rely on sustainable and cheap(er) imports of biomass. Some well-positioned regions of the world are already playing a role in supplying biomass to the European markets and could become increasingly relevant in the near future. One of the objectives of the BioTrade2020+ project is to propose appropriate long-term strategies and support frameworks which can form a basis for a balanced approach between promoting the use of domestic biomass, while also keeping markets open for sustainable imports of biomass. This workshop aims to bring people together to initiate discussions on how these trade strategies can be framed. The central points of discussion will be (1) how to define sustainable export potentials, (2) which opportunities and risks are connected with biomass trade and how these can be addressed, and (3) which are the key principles that sustainable biomass trade should fulfil - one important point is the interaction between local use and exports in the sourcing regions. More information and presentation slides are available for download here, or download all-in-one zip file.

Report: Ecological sustainability of wood bioenergy feedstock supply chains: Local, national and international policy perspectives

The report first provides a brief overview of development of policy and criteria related to sustainability of bioenergy in the EU and in key biomass importer Member States (United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium). The following sections then provide an thorough review of policy, regulations and practices of Canada and the United States, with a special focus of key biomass producing provinces/states (British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in Canada, Georgia, New York and Massachusetts and California in the US); this in-depth analysis of the Canadian and American contexts was made possible due to the abundance of information available for those countries, but was also found necessary due to the scarcity of syntheses on this information. The next section then provides an overview of the policy and practices for land and forest management in Russia, with a focus on the region of Northwest Russia, based on the information that was possible to gather from this area. The report concludes with a discussion and main conclusions stemming from the analysis of the case studies. Download report.

Report: Biomethane - Status and Factors Affecting Market Development and Trade

A new report, "Biomethane: Status and Factors Affecting Market Development and Trade", published in September 2014, was prepared jointly by Task 40 and Task 37 to address the status and emerging challenges of dealing with the rapid growth of production of biomethane, by either anaerobic digestion or thermal gasification, the developing biomethane market and trade of the gaseous biofuel. The aim of this study is to provide an up-to-date overview of the status of biomethane (including upgraded biogas and bio-SNG) production, grid injection and use in different countries, and to illustrate the options and needs for the development of larger biomethane supply strategies. The focus is on technical, economic and management- related hurdles to inject biomethane into the natural gas grid and to trade it transnationally. The study provides insights into the current status of technologies, technical requirements and sustainability indicators as well as cost of biomethane production and use in general and especially in selected countries. It also assesses implementation strategies, market situations and market expectations in selected countries, and proposes actions to be taken to reduce barriers and to develop the market step-by-step. The publication (ISBN 978-1-910154-10-6) is available electronically here.

Report: Impact of promotion mechanisms for advanced and low-iLUC biofuels on markets

With current discussions on indirect effects of biofuels, and the aim to broaden feedstocks to non-food biomass, policies are trying to put focus on biofuels from waste, residues and lignocellulose materials, so called 'advanced' biofuels. Next to the general biofuel incentives, these biofuels are getting extra support through specific promotion mechanisms. Examples are the double-counting mechanism for advanced biofuels in the EU, and the specific targets for advanced biofuels in the US. In this study, some typical cases are presented where promotion mechanisms for advanced biofuels have had an impact on markets and trade (used cooking oils and animal fats, sugarcane ethanol), or may be anticipated to impact markets and trade in the future (straw, wood pellets). General conclusions and summaries of the four case studies can be found in a summary report. Download summary.

The selected cases are:

1. Used cooking oils and animal fats for biodiesel: impact of the double-counting mechanism for advanced biofuels in the European Renewable Energy Directive on market prices and trade flows, analysed for the Netherlands and Italy. Download report.

2. Sugarcane ethanol: impact of the subtargets for specific advanced biofuels in the US Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2), where sugar cane ethanol is classified as 'advanced biofuel'. This has had a clear impact on prices and trade patterns between Brazil and the US. Download report.

3. Crop residues (straw) for bioenergy: straw may play an important role for advanced biofuels in the future. In countries such as Germany, Denmark or Poland, this is an emerging feedstock for energy and biofuels. There are already some experiences we can take into account from the promotion of straw for stationary energy, e.g. in Denmark. Download report.

4. International trade of US wood pellets for bioenergy in the EU: Renewable Energy promotion in certain EU Member States is causing considerable trade flows from the US to the EU. There is clear that there are interactions with existing wood markets and forestry practises. In the future there may be additional effects when demand for cellulose-based biofuels enters these markets. Download report.

Statement: Workshop on "Forests, bioenergy and climate change mitigation", Copenhagen, 19-20 May 2014

This statement is an outcome of the workshop on "Forests, bioenergy and climate change mitigation", held May 19-20, 2014 in Copenhagen , which had the following objectives:

- to facilitate dialogue between scientists on the topic of climate effects of forest -based bioenergy, in order to advance scientific understanding of the topic and to clarify divergent views on the role of forest-based bioenergy in climate change mitigation, and
- to identify knowledge gaps and priorities for future research and data collection, in order to improve scientific understanding and support policy development for forest-based bioenergy.

The statement is available at the Task 38 website and also in PDF version.

Past event: Workshop Biomass trade & supply system opportunities in a world-wide bio-based economy, Jonkoping, Sweden - 4 Jun 2014

On June 4th, IEA Bioenergy Task 40 organized a workshop on biomass trade and supply system opportunities in a world-wide bio-based economy, as a side event during the World Bioenergy Conference in Jönköping, Sweden. With the growing worldwide interest to transition from fossil energy resources to renewable energy including bioenergy, regional biomass resource availability, logistics, and distribution infrastructures become increasingly important. In order for biorefineries to achieve economies of scale, a consistent supply of densified, on-spec feedstock is a prerequisite. Achieving volume and price targets and a respective fungibility of the biomass, i.e., to create a global commodity, will be vital for the bio-based economy. During the workshop (chaired by Dr. Patrick Lamers from the Idaho National Laboratory) four speakers from industry and academia provided their vision on the pros and cons of trading different types of preprocessed biomass (wood chips, wood pellets, torrefied pellets and pyrolysis oil) amongst others in relation to end-user requirements and existing logistic infrastructure, and how these may be utilized more effectively, e.g., by combining roundwood and wood chip transport or by combining coal and (torrefied) biomass transport in large sea vessels. Download presentations and the summary.

Report: Low cost, Long Distance Biomass Supply Chains (Revised)

Download 15 August 2013 (Revised in April 2014) - This report focuses on long-distance biomass supply chains, including ground-based supply of raw biomass to densification plants, and transportation of densified biomass to ports in other continents. It aims to: (i) provide an overview of the characteristics of three densified biomass forms; solid wood pellets, solid torrefied wood and liquid pyrolysis oil; for these; (ii) outline existing and future markets and specific supply chains for these products and explore large sources of biomass worldwide, some well-established and already being developed either for local use or trade, some only identified as a possible future potential source; (iii) highlight the importance of the costs of logistics in biomass supply chains; (iv) illustrate current cost structures of existing long-distance biomass supply chains, and (v) explore how the cost of current and future long-distance supply chains of wood pellets, torrefied pellets and pyrolysis oil could be lowered, and what this would require form the stakeholders involved.

The report has received a full-page coverage on "Bioenergy International" issue October 2013 page 17.

Past event: Workshop Torrefaction of Biomass, CEBC, Graz, Austria

17 Jan 2014 - In the joint workshop of Task 40, Task 32 and SECTOR on the topic of biomass torrefaction at the 4th Central European Biomass Conference has attracted 70 attendees to the discussion of economic and technological developments in the field of biomass torrefaction. The workshop first started with an overview of the developments in torrefaction, followed by several technical presentations on the torrefaction process, and also topics on international trade and market perspectives. Finally, the workshop ends with a round table discussion on the future perspectives from the viewpoints of technology suppliers, biomass producers, traders and consumers. | Program | The presentations are ready for download | Notes and summary of the workshop for download.

Book: International Bioenergy Trade: History, status & outlook on securing sustainable bioenergy supply, demand and markets

2 May 2013 - The trade of global bioenergy commodities, such as ethanol, biodiesel and wood pellets has been growing exponentially in the past decade, and have by 2013 reached true "commodity" volumes, i.e. tens of millions of tonnes traded each year, and billions (both in US$/EUR) of annual turnover.

IEA Bioenergy Task 40 was founded in 2004 and is now in its 4th triennium. For the past 9 years, task 40 has monitored the developments in international bioenergy trade, including the organization of about 20 workshops on trade-related topics, and the publication of over 100 studies, country reports, newsletters, etc. The amount of material produced over the years and insights gained in how biomass markets and international trade of biomass and biofuels has developed is impressive. Besides that the group has produced overviews and insights, also a large amount of practical experience has been brought together in what works and what doesn't. Last but not least, based on all this, there are clear(er) views on how to proceed to build working sustainable international biomass markets in the future. This book compiles those lessons and insights into an easily accessible book publication.

More information on the book available at Springer website.

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