Star-COLIBRI project: biorefinery clustering
The Star-COLIBRI project (Strategic Research Targets for 2020 – Collaboration Initiative on Biorefineries) is a Coordination and Support Action funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme for 2 years starting on November 1st 2009. The project involves 5 European Technology Platforms and 5 major European Research organisations.
Background: opportunities and challenges around biorefinery research
Around the globe, current economies are largely dependent on fossil fuels and particularly oil as it provides the basis of most of our energy and chemical feedstocks. However, crude oil reserves are finite and there is an ever-increasing recognition that CO2 emissions are the principal cause of global warming. The threats that climate change and a limited oil supply represent to our own and future generations therefore require immediate action. At global level, the issue of climate change is primarily dealt through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; with the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2012. At the EU level the most important elements have been the adoption of the Climate and Energy Package by the European Council in April 2009, as well as the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan) for 2020.
Policy initiatives such as these unfailingly recognise that new generations of technologies have to be developed if we are to reduce the carbon footprint of our economies. The expectation is that advances in the field of biorefineries can be one part of the solution. European cooperation is needed to balance market demand and raw material supply, find new opportunities as well as create awareness for mutual interests. The use of key enabling technologies to maximise the use of European biomass should be encouraged so as to minimise imported biomass. One of the current challenges in Europe is that research in the biorefinery field is highly fragmented and duplication of efforts is rather common.
As a response to these challenges around biorefinery research, Star-COLIBRI's main objectives are the following:
- Overcome fragmentation and promoting cross-fertilization in the area of biorefineries research
- Provide a wiki-portal that facilitates information handling and to collect and exchange information between all relevant biorefinery stakeholders
- Identify large and small high-impact R&D projects of actual relevance in the area of biorefineries
- Identify gaps and overlaps in ongoing research efforts to make way for a better use of resources
- Support innovations by speeding up and facilitating industrial exploitation of research results in the biorefinery field
- Create critical mass and synergy by initiating and supporting transparent collaborations between on-going biorefinery R&D projects through so-called StarClusters
- Contribute to the development of European and national policy initiatives, including legislation, standardisation, labelling and certification
- Create awareness of new research results and technologies and thereby facilitate the exploitation by European industry
- Promote coordination in the field of future R&D funding and facilitate the creation of Public-Private Partnerships
- Enable collaboration between established trans-national research programmes in the area of biorefineries
- Produce a Vision 2030 Document and a Strategic Research Roadmap for Biorefineries 2020
- To facilitate the creation of European Public-Private Partnerships as a form of intensified European cooperation
Progress beyond state-of-the-art
By initiating new forms of collaborations between a different stakeholder groups, Star-COLIBRI will increase the impact of research investments on national as well as European scale. The whole development of biorefineries is anticipated to move faster with more coordinated actions. More specifically, the progress beyond state of the art is:
- A new innovative mechanism facilitating and allowing coordination between thematic and geographically segregated research streams across Europe called StarClustering
- The mobilisation of large industry, SMEs, researchers and policy makers around a joint European 2030 Biorefinery Vision document and a shared European Biorefinery Strategic Research Road Map for 2020
- Improved coordination between national and regional research funding organisations through the ERA-Net Liaisons Task Force and a more coherent and targeted funding of research by providing adequate decision making material to national research funding organisations and the European Commission
- Investigating the impact of different Public-Private Partnerships in the area of biorefinery. Identifying the best alternative (as long as it is better than not establishing a PPP) to the Stakeholders
- In all aspects facilitating investment in sustainable biorefinery capacity reduce redundancy in the chain from research to business and thus leading to better resource efficiency and thereby fast-tracking technology development in Europe.
- Integration of comprehensive sustainability assessments for which methodologies are only now being developed
How will we reach these objectives? Check our Activities section.