BIOFIT explores the opportunities and barriers to achieve the sustainable energy targets with a focus on the option “retrofitting”. This means looking at the possibilities to replace (only) part of a factory or installation and to upgrade so-called “outdated technology” to replacement technology to produce bioenergy. There are limited capital costs associated with a short payback period. This study evaluates a number of these retrofitting installations in different EU regions and explores the opportunities and obstacles to implement this concept in other places. The Netherlands is one of the countries mentioned by name and is (therefore) the subject of case study.

In the last decades it has become increasingly clear that fossil fuel resources are scarce, finite and their use can harm the environment and our climate. Besides reducing our CO2 emissions – a need recognised in the Paris agreement (2015) – increasing renewable energy production will ensure enhanced security of supply, more innovation, jobs and growth. In the EU Renewable Energy Directive of 2009, national renewable energy targets were agreed upon that would lead to 20% renewable energy production in the EU by 2020. Since then, many Member States have experienced rapid growth of renewable energy production, often even beyond the mandated targets, which shows the broad consensus in Europe on this topic. In the EU’s “Clean Energy for all Europeans” package of 2016 the unequivocal choice for renewable energy was further enshrined by adopting a binding target of 27% final energy consumption from renewable energy. This is in line with the EU 2050 roadmap which foresees a phasing out of fossil fuels by that time, to be replaced by renewables. Bioenergy is an essential form of renewable energy, providing an estimated 60% of EU’s renewable energy production in 2017 . In the future, bioenergy will remain important; in its 2017 Roadmap2 the International Energy Agency (IEA) notes that bioenergy plays an essential role in its 2DS (2°C Scenario), providing almost 20% of the global cumulative CO2 emission savings by 2060. Bioenergy is a complex and sometimes controversial topic. There is an increasing understanding that only bioenergy that is supplied and used in a sustainable manner has a place in a low carbon energy future. Modern bioenergy takes on many forms. Relatively straight-forward applications, such as the production of heat by combustion of wood are implemented alongside biogas production through anaerobic digestion and production of transport fuels. Spurred by innovation, technologies are becoming more advanced and diverse, leading to the production of variety of advanced transport fuels (first and second-generation bioethanol, biodiesel and biokerosene), intermediate bioenergy carriers and high-efficiency, low carbon emission production of power, heating and cooling. Besides erecting entirely new bioenergy plants, retrofitting – which means replacing a part of a factory or installation with state-of-the-art equipment – can be a very good alternative to replace fossil fuels or to upgrade outdated renewable technology. Retrofitting means often lower capital expenditure (CAPEX), shorter lead times, faster implementation, less production time losses and lower risks.