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EU Council approves new biofuel rules

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

EU Ministers have officially approved new rules to address indirect land use change (ILUC) impacts associated with biofuels. The new rules, which have been under discussion by the EU institutions for three years, must now be transposed and implemented quickly to ensure Europe meets its climate and energy targets for transport, according to the European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE).

The new agreement adopted by the Agriculture Council introduces a 7% limit on the contribution of conventional biofuels towards the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) target. The new rules enable Member States to introduce national sub targets for advanced biofuels and obligate the European Commission to provide a methodological basis for identifying low ILUC risk biofuels. The package also introduces a range of multiple counting factors for advanced biofuels and renewable electricity use. Member States have 24 months to transpose the new rules.

The agreement comes two weeks after the European Commission estimated that the share of renewable energy in Europe’s transport sector was 5.7% in 2014. The Commission warned that many Member States are at risk of not reaching the target because they have not sufficiently developed their biofuels markets. The Commission concludes that an increase in biofuels consumption to meet the 2020 targets will not detrimentally impact on food prices or availability or land use.

Last year the JEC Biofuels Programme, an initiative of the European Commission, found that the most favourable scenarios to meet the RED and FQD targets is when the use of ethanol is maximised through higher ethanol petrol blends such as E10. E10 requires no major technological adjustments in the fuel infrastructure or vehicle fleet because today’s vehicle fleet is almost fully compatible. Europe currently has enough ethanol production capacity (8.7 billion litres) to provide 83% of the ethanol needed (10.6 billion litres) for full penetration of the petrol market by E10. With E10 fuel only currently available in France, Germany and Finland, other Member States should prioritise its roll out.

“Today’s political conclusion to the ILUC debate is long overdue. With only 5 years left to meet the climate and energy targets for transport, urgent action is now needed at national level to transpose and apply these new biofuel rules. Increasing the amount of sustainable biofuels on the EU market through the roll out of higher biofuel blends, such as E10, is the only realistic, cost effective way for Member States to meet these targets,” said Robert Wright, Secretary General of ePURE.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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