Europe has substantial unused land. Some of this land is in this condition because of its inherent characteristics (difficult access, location, soil composition, climate). Other parts have once been profitable as farm land or otherwise, and now are abandoned as a result of overexploitation, pollution, climate change and/or exodus from rural areas.
The challenge is to put unused land back into production by cultivating dedicated industrial and forestry crops and their conversion into added-value products for identified applications. The challenge also includes establishing required logistics to ensure the supply of these crops to biorefineries, providing for a sustainable operation with minimal losses within the value chain.
Proposals should clearly show that there is no overlap with ongoing large scale initiatives such as the Flagship project FIRST2RUN funded under the AWP2014 call, rather showing complementarity in terms of feedstock, land and climate conditions, products, market and replication potential in Europe. Where necessary, actions need to compare with ongoing programmes in Horizon 2020 addressing Rural Renaissance to seek synergies with other projects in this field.
Demonstrate the technical, economical and sustainable viability of the full system of converting dedicated industrial crops, cultivated on unused lands, into added-value products.
Proposals should identify the most suitable crop varieties for the selected environment, and implement sustainable agronomic practices to ensure long term land profitability. Proposals could also contain remediation actions for marginal or contaminated soils in order to convert or return these lands to use for agricultural purposes.
Proposals should not only include the (physical) identification of potentially available lands and the subject dedicated crops, but also the required logistics (handling, storage, transportation, etc.) for a sustainable delivery of feedstock at a biorefinery. Proposals should demonstrate that the quality of the biorefinery feedstock meets requirements for its further processing and conversion into added-value marketable products for application in specific end-market sectors.
Proposals thus cover the value chain up to the gates of a typical biorefinery and allow the implementation of a ‘land-integrated biorefinery’, embedding the supply chain within the total value chain and involving different partners in several sectors (feedstock suppliers, industrial players, end-customers, etc.).
Proposals should seek complementarity with activities funded under European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), for example with those related to biorefining or novel sources of biomass feedstocks, or bioeconomy capacity building.
Proposals include participation of all the different actors within the value chain contributing with their knowledge of the economical, technical and environmental aspects and opportunities associated with the implementation of circular economy.
Proposals should achieve technology demonstrated in an industrial environment, or a system prototype demonstration in operational environment. Proposals need to address the whole value chain, from feedstock sourcing to market applications (Technology Readiness Levels 6-7).
Proposals should also include a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in order to evaluate the environmental and socio-economic performance of the whole value chain. Especially, environmental considerations should be addressed when choosing marginal lands to be cultivated (such as conservation of biodiversity and continuity in the provision of ecosystem services).
It is considered that proposals with a total eligible budget of up to EUR 15 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals with another budget.