What is the potential and the challenges of the biofuels industry in Europe? What are the building blocks of a profitable biofuels industry? What is the future of biorefineries in Europe? These are some of the topics that were on the agenda at Novozymes’ first European Bioenergy Executive Summit, which ran Oct. 6-7, in Copenhagen. More than 20 customers, industry leaders and European associations are attending and sparking discussions about how to move the bioenergy industry in Europe forward.

“Together we’ve been creating jobs and we’ve reduced dependency on fossil fuels. But the bioenergy industry in Europe also faces some challenges,” Sebastian Søderberg, VP for Biomass Conversion, said at the summit. “We believe that there’s great potential here and we’re optimistic. We just have to work together to achieve it.”

Europe has the building blocks

A region with a well-established agricultural value chain and an abundance of crops, Europe has the building blocks needed to develop the biofuels industry further. Since 2003, the renewable ethanol industry has created and sustained more than 50,000 direct and indirect jobs in Europe, supporting rural development and improving farmers’ incomes. What’s more, since 2014, European ethanol saved five million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to taking three million cars off the road for a year.

Yet the European ethanol industry has some way to go to fully embrace its potential. It faces challenges in terms of energy security, political support and fierce competition from other energy industries. According to former U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, who gave the keynote speech at the Bioenergy Summit, the industry needs to stay united to face these challenges.

Stay united

“The biofuels industry is up against the biggest business in the world – oil. In order to grow the industry, we need to stay united and focus on training and educating the public about biofuels, research our opposition to identity who we’re up against, and we need to identify our sympathizers and fight together,” said Wesley Clark, who is Chairman of Growth Energy.

Throughout the summit, participants engaged in lively workshops and dialogues to address some of these challenges, and to discuss what is most relevant to their business and has the greatest impact on their bottom-line.

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Annegrethe Sylvest Jakobsen

Annegrethe is an experienced Public Affairs and Corporate Communications executive with a proven track record in managing stakeholder relations across Europe, Americas, and Asia. She currently serves as Novozymes’ Head of Global Industry Partners where she drives commercial positioning and market communications across all industries of the company.