Biochar Carbon Removal

Innovation Challenge

As a leading regional energy supply company and flagship enterprise in Styria, Energie Steiermark aims to position itself as a leading decarbonization partner with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2040.

Through our Next Incubator, we are continuously seeking companies, startups, and innovators to collaborate on developing products and services for sustainable solutions and business models.

Do you have an innovative concept that you would like to implement? Then apply now!

We are looking for concepts for the joint development and implementation of a business model in the field of "Biochar Carbon Removal":

Solutions in the area of pyrolytic or pyrogenic carbon capture and storage with the minimum goal of covering the summer load of a district heating network in Styria.

The plant's design should enable year-round operation (including summer load).

Applicants can assume the availability of implementation space at the site for plant construction.

Biomass (wood chips) is generally available at the site, but alternative sources (biomass residues, etc.) should be considered in the concept, and bonus points will be granted for this.

The innovation challenge focuses on the following aspects:

  • Market-ready technologies: Concepts should identify technologies that are currently in operation in reference plants of comparable size, along with energy and mass balance details (fuel requirements, heat and electricity generation, biochar output, etc.). reference plants (of a comparable magnitude) as well as energy and mass balance (fuel requirements, heat and possibly electricity generation, biochar output, etc.).
  • Degree of innovation: The overall concept shoule be innovative, with a focus on fuel flexibility and the utilization of biogenic residues.
  • Scalable utilization and sales potential: Concepts should consider the potential for long-term storage and the generation of tradable CORC certificates (COXNUMX Removal Certificates). Biochar with special attention to long-term storage.
  • Generation of tradables CORC certificates (CO2 Removal Certificate).
  • Business models: The entire value chain, including active involvement of Energie Steiermark as implementation partner and plant operator, should be included in the proposed business models.

Concepts can be submitted by individual players or consortia and will be developed together with Energie Steiermark as part of a joint innovation partnership.

The innovation partnership is divided into different phases, and a decision will be made after each phase on whether to continue.

Phases of the innovation challenge

Submission of applications

Participate in our innovation challenge "Biochar Carbon Removal" and develop an innovative solution with scaling potential together.
Register on the Energie Steiermark procurement portal at and provide the required information.

  • company information

  • Self-declaration for two-stage procedure

    Note: The required documents do not need to be submitted with the participation application. The self-declaration and thus confirmation of their existence and fulfillment is sufficient.

  • References

    Note: At least one project with a thermal output (90°) of more than 500kW must be demonstrated in the last five years.

  • Acknowledgment of the data protection information and declaration on the sanctions regulation and cartel offenses

  • Business model references upload (pitch deck with max. 20 pages)

    Note: Information on reference projects in which concepts, approaches, and business models were used or implemented, in particular with reference to cascading use of biomass residues, combined production of electricity and heat, use of biochar, generation of CO2 removal certificates, and/or scaling potentials.

The participation application must be submitted with a qualified electronic signature. If you have any questions or information about the procurement portal, please contact the helpdesk M: T: +43 (0) 1 3157940 (Monday to Thursday from 08:00 to 17:30 CET and Friday from 08:00 to 14:30 CET) is available for storage, management and analysis.

Please use the contact form on the procurement portal for any questions you may have about the organizational or content-related process of the Innovation Challenge

Attention: Registration on the procurement portal is a mandatory requirement for participation in the innovation challenge.


Five applicants will be invited to present a comprehensive business model and submit an initial offer. The selection of these applicants will be made through a qualification review and selection process.

It is mandatory to have a reference project with a thermal capacity (90°C) of more than 500kW in the last five years.

Transmission of the comprehensive business model and presentation of an initial offer

The offer must include, in particular, information on the energy and mass balance of the pilot plant, detailed data on the business model (CAPEX, OPEX, revenues), as well as the visualization of the role distribution, including those potentially perceived by Energie Steiermark.

In addition, the bidders must submit an offer for the implementation of the approximately 6-month development phase (feasibility study).

Templates for detailed disclosure will be provided to the five bidders after the selection process.

Bootcamp and decision for development phase

Present your solution with a detailed concept description and present your overall concept to an internal and external expert jury.

  • Template 1: Energy, mass balance

  • Template 2: Information on the business model (CAPEX, OPEX, revenues)

  • Template 3: Visualization of the role distribution (planner, plant builder/operator, CORC marketing, biochar utilization, etc.)

The boot camp will take place in Graz at the end of June. Detailed information on the procedure and format will be communicated to the bidders in due time before the event.

Evaluation criteria in the boot camp:

  • 50% success and financial planning

    • Development and construction phase (lump sum, CAPEX)
    • Demonstration phase (OPEX, revenue)
    • Revenue expectations for all parties involved in the business model
    • Basic information on cost assumptions and indexing of primary materials, energy, ongoing costs, etc.
    • Special consideration of utilization potentials and markets for the produced biochar
  • 10% degree of innovation

    • Unique selling proposition of the overall concept compared to existing solutions
  • 10% business model potential and scalability from the perspective of the client

    • Potential roles in the business model for Energie Steiermark
    • Generation of Certificates
    • Scaling potential and synergy effects
  • 10% implementation probability

    • Use of existing and proven technologies
    • Special implementation requirements
  • 10% circular economy

    • Fuel flexibility with a focus on biogenic residual materials
    • Additional points are awarded for the design of circular approaches. These should be highlighted separately in the concept, including their expected impact.
  • 5% CO2 storage potential and duration

    • Long-term CO2 storage
    • Detailed information on the CO2 balance

Project implementation phases

We offer:

Access to an extensive partner network and the chance to implement your solution together!

  • Sound feedback and know-how
    A pool of internal and external experts with many years of experience in the energy and heating industry is available to advise and support you.

  • Lead User Access
    We facilitate access to lead users for rapid product testing (product-market fit).

  • network of partners
    Our partner network supports you in developing your business model.

  • market access
    When developing your concept, benefit from the reach and trust that Energie Steiermark enjoys.

We are looking for innovative minds with a strong motivation to further develop their business model through an innovation partnership.

Together, we aim to implement an innovative and sustainable concept.

We assure you the ownership of your existing/current business model through a confidentiality agreement. Should your concept be implemented, the implementation conditions will be negotiated separately.

What are you waiting for?

You have nothing to lose!
Submit your idea today !