Meeting Policy Challenges for a Sustainable Bioeconomy

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This publication investigates key aspects surrounding the sustainability of bioeconomy development: the use of biomass as feedstock for future production;  the design and building of biorefineries for the manufacture of a range of fuels, chemicals and materials, and also for electricity generation; and the use of biotechnologies such as synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and gene editing.

Today more than 50 countries have a dedicated bioeconomy strategy or related policies. While the bioeconomy is consistent with sustainability policy (examples are the circular economy, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, green growth, re-industrialisation, rural regeneration, climate change mitigation), synergies must be ensured to avoid over-exploitation of natural resources and conflicting global needs.



What is a biorefinery

Definitions, classification and general models

This chapter explores biorefinery models and their status, setting the stage for later chapters that focus more on public policy. Biorefinery models have evolved according to needs from the first ethanol mills using food crops as feedstocks to more complex (and more expensive) models using feedstocks other than food crops. The ultimate goal is the widespread application of the integrated biorefinery that can use multiple feedstocks and generate multiple products (fuels, chemicals, materials, electricity). However, these are still not ready for the market and are seen as high-risk investments. Building the first-ofkind flagship plants is proving difficult. Meanwhile, marine biorefineries, which offer similar advantages, remain difficult to design and build. And other yet more novel biorefinery concepts are arising.


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