Howden Backing Bioenergy for a Low Carbon Future


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The UNFCCC Conference of Parties 26 (COP26) will take place in Glasgow during November 2021. This will again see one of the largest gatherings of International Leaders facing the Global challenge of dramatic implications from Climate Change due to environmental emissions.

Under the original Kyoto Protocol, finalized 1997 but not going into force until 2005, industrialised nations pledged to cut annual emissions of Carbon and six greenhouse gases by various amounts, equating to a 30% reduction in the amount otherwise emitted. The Protocol effectively failed due the fact both United States and China, having by far the largest GHG emissions and not party to the agreement, both increased GHG emissions far exceeding the targeted reduction under the Kyoto Protocol

The Paris Agreement adopted at COP 21, December 2015, is a legally binding international treaty on climate change to limit global warming to well below 2, and preferably 1.5 degree Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. The United States and China were both party to this agreement.

During COP 26 in Glasgow, the international factions will submit action plans and commitments toward achieving this goal

The global shift away from fossil fuels has already created immense change within Howden and the growing need for Renewable Energy including BIOFUELS presents an increasing market opportunity


Biomass is any organic material that has absorbed sunlight and stored it in the form of chemical energy. Wood, energy crops and waste from forests, yards, or farms are all examples of Biomass and technically can be used directly as a fuel e.g. wood burning. For clarification, the word Biomass denotes the biological raw material the fuel is made of.

The word Biofuel should be reserved for liquid or gaseous fuels, used for energy storage and transportation.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) defines bioenergy as a renewable form of energy. The IEA (International Energy Agency) defines bioenergy as the most important source of renewable energy today and argue that the current rate of bioenergy deployment is well below the levels required in low carbon scenarios, and that accelerated deployment is urgently needed.


Within Howden, most people tend to automatically associate with Bio-Methane or Bio-Gas due to our being “Air and Gas Handling” however, the wider Biofuels market is almost 100 times larger and mostly Bio- Liquid fuels, which are not only more easily and safely transported, but importantly have far higher energy density, especially important for storage and mobility. 

The scale of the current Biofuels global market is $135Bn, and this is only circa 3% of Conventional Fossil Fuels. 

Regional uptake has been varied, Brazil for example was one of the first using sugar cane and Bioethanol has been available at most Gas Stations for many years. The solid waste is used as fuel to create heat and steam to both generate electricity and the heat for distillation of Bioethanol. Similarly corn is used in the US for Bioethanol production. However, this first generation of Bioethanol production created public concerns for farmland food production. 


Biofuels can be divided into four basic categories or “generations,” depending on the raw materials used to produce them. 

First-generation biofuels are produced mainly from food-related sources. Examples include sweetcorn, sugar cane, vegetable oils and animal fats. Fuel can be made from these substances in many ways, including fermentation using yeast, basically converting the sugars into ethanol.

Second-generation biofuels are produced from non-food sources, utilising the cellulose that make up cell walls. These cellulosic biofuels. Wood and straw are examples of materials used to produce cellulosic biofuels, but importantly also crop residues, materials left over after the edible part of a crop has been harvested.

Third-generation biofuels are produced by certain species of algae. Some algal species can secrete oily substances which can be used as biofuels. Algae photosynthesize, and therefore create their own energy However, large-scale algal biofuels are still very expensive to produce. Researchers are trying to develop better harvesting techniques and bioreactors to grow microorganisms.

Fourth-generation biofuels make up the newest sector of biofuel technology, in which scientists are trying to find a source of bioenergy that doubles as a method for capturing and storing CO2. These new biofuels will be created through advanced biochemistry techniques or petroleum-like hydro processing. 

Some of the innovative existing processes for BioFuel production: -

Source: IEA 2017 Biofuels Technology Roadmap

Biofuels processing plants and refineries are existing and the number of plants growing rapidly. The tendency is smaller scale plants and more localised to the feedstock, but each represent opportunity for rotating machinery, including fans and compressors

The Pathway from BioMass to final energy Use, > > Opportunities for Howden at each stage


One of Howden’s core values is to adapt and innovate to ensure that we are always at the forefront of enabling customer’s processes as the world progresses towards a carbon neutral & sustainable society. We are continuously living these values through our customers and none more so than in the world of Renewable Energy.



If you would like to submit an enquiry please get in touch.