Substitution of fossil fuels with agrobiomass can be a very promising option for the decarbonisation of the heating sector, especially in rural areas. AgroBioHeat is a new EU project funded through Horizon 2020 that aims to provide a comprehensive platform for overcoming barriers and support the market uptake of agrobiomass heating.
The heating sector is often overlooked in the overall EU efforts to decarbonize its economy; however, it amounts to 51 % of the final energy consumption, contributes about 27 % of EU carbon emissions and still more than 80 % of the sector consumption is based on non-renewable sources. Bioenergy is by far the leading (88 %) renewable energy contributor in the heating sector. Meeting the EU 2030 targets for renewable energy and emission reduction means that additional efforts need to be spent on the decarbonisation of the heating sector.
Rural areas are also often overlooked in the energy transition. However, they are ideal for developing renewable heating solutions based on particular types of biomass resources: agrobiomass. Agrobiomass in its various forms (e.g. straw, prunings, agro-industrial residues such as olive stones and nut shells, energy crops, etc.) can be abundant in rural areas, ensuring both adequate fuel supply and short supply chains that create favourable conditions for economic and environmental sustainability. Energetic utilization of agrobiomass can also have positive social impact, in particular local job creation. Finally, from the technological side, modern heating solutions are available that can use agrobiomass with low emissions and high efficiency.
Despite these advantages, market uptake of agrobiomass heating is slow for various reasons: limited awareness of technology options, perception of agrobiomass as a difficult fuel to utilize, difficulties in matching supply and demand and lack of clear vision and support from policy makers. Successful cases exist but have limited visibility and are rarely known beyond their area of operation.
The AgroBioHeat project
The AgroBioHeat project has been designed as a toolbox for overcoming these barriers and creating a favourable framework for extensive deployment of agrobiomass heating solutions. Most of the project activities aiming to promote agrobiomass heating will be implemented in six multiplication countries: Croatia, France, Greece, Romania, Spain, and Ukraine.
Some of the most important activities to be undertaken by the AgroBioHeat project are: engagement of local actors and intensive accompaniment of 8 flagship agrobiomass heating initiatives in the multiplication countries, promotion and visibility of successful cases, drafting of national policy recommendations, and aware-raising and empowerment actions, including intensive exposition of agrobiomass heating in relevant fairs, visits to success cases and trainings. On the policy side in particular, AgroBioHeat also intends to suggest emission limits for agrobiomass boilers, based on several test campaigns in the partners’ facilities or in operating plants as well as manufacturer feedback, for inclusion in the Ecodesign Regulation revision.
Centre for Research and Technology Hellas - CERTH is the project coordinator and will be involved in most project activities. CERTH will lead the activity on the identification, studying and visualization of successful cases of agrobiomass heating and will also create an AgroBiomass Heating Observatory. Together with INASO-PASEGES, CERTH will also be actively involved in multiplication and local engagement activities in Greece and will provide its technical expertise to new initiatives. From a technical side, CERTH will also be involved in laboratory testing of selected agrobiomass boilers. Finally, CERTH will also contribute to the drafting of policy recommendations, and especially in bringing suggested emission limits for agrobiomass boilers to European policy makers.
The project consortium includes 13 partners from 9 European countries with a wide range of competencies and backgrounds, from biomass & bioenergy, renewable energy or agricultural associations & clusters, to research technical partners with background in the field of biomass & bioenergy, to social science expertise and finally, a company providing heating solutions (installation and operation) based on biomass. In particular, the partners are: Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (Greece) – project coordinator, Fundación CIRCE (Spain), Spanish Biomass Association – AVEBIOM (Spain), BIOS BIOENERGIESYSTEME (Austria), Agro Business Park (Denmark), Bioenergy Europe (Belgium), Green Energy Cooperative – ZEZ (Croatia), Green Energy Innovative Biomass Cluster (Romania), INASO-PASEGES (Greece), Bioenergy Association of Ukraine – UABio (Ukraine), White Research (Belgium), Agronergy (France) and Association of Local Initiatives in the field of Energy and Environment – AILE (France).
The AgroBioHeat consortium already had its kick-off meeting on 15 – 16 January 2019 in Thessaloniki, Greece. The meeting was attended by representatives from all participating organizations and laid the foundation for commencing several project activities that aim to have a positive impact on the deployment of agrobiomass heating solutions. In addition, the project partners had an opportunity to visit a real case of agrobiomass heating in Greece: the Imathia Horticulture Centre of AGRIS Horticulture. The 3-hectare nursery of the company is heated almost exclusively using agrobiomass (sunflower husk pellets), leading to significant cost savings (20 – 30 %) compared to heavy fuel oil.
Contact details and further information
The AgroBioHeat project started on 1st January 2019 and will last for three years. It is funded by Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 818369.
Website: www.agrobioheat.eu (under construction)
Manolis Karampinis (coordinator)
Centre for Research and Technology Hellas / Chemical Process and Energy Resources Institute
Phone: +30 211 1069500
Email: karampinis (at) certh.gr