Experts gathered in Helsinki on the 11th of October 2012 to discuss the role of biofuels in the future Nordic energy and transport system. It is clear that biofuels must underpin a significant share of our transport energy demand in the future, but is it unclear how the Nordic region should best make this transition.

The event was the annual seminar of the project “Technology Opportunities in Nordic Energy System Transitions”, part of the Sustainable Energy Systems 2050 programme. Participants included researchers from across the region, as well at members of the project’s scientific advisory group, coming from as far afield as the U.S.A, Netherlands and Switzerland.

Are the Nordic countries on the same path?

Biofuels are set to play a critical role in the decarbonisation of the transport sector. The Nordic region already has a relatively decarbonised power supply, making transport the largest obstacle in achieving the ambitious national climate targets for 2050.

A key topic in the discussions was path dependencies – how decisions made in the past can affect the potential developments of a technology in the future. This is a critical issue for the Nordic region, where each Nordic country has a different strategy with regard to the development and implementation of sustainable transport technologies.

Another important topic was the identification of new industrial value chains in biofuel production – where Nordic industry will find business opportunities in supplying our biofuel demand in the future.

One of many pathways

Alongside electricity and hydrogen, biofuels is one of the three technology platforms of the project, and the first to be assessed in detail. This was the first annual meeting of the four-year project, which will describe required institutional structures, industrial strategies and policy challenges in the transition to a sustainable Nordic energy and transport system in 2050.

The project has important synergies with other Nordic projects. The Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives project for example will develop scenarios for a carbon-neutral Nordic energy and transport system in 2050, providing and important reference point for the analysis in this project.

The seminar included a presentation from Finnish company ST1, a leading bioethanol producer in the Nordic region. A visit to the ST1 plant was arranged, where biofuels were made from waste bread.

Read more about the project.