February 9, 2006

EUROPE: European Strategy for Biofuels

“There has never been a better moment to push the case for biofuels,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. “Crude oil prices remain high. We face stringent targets under the Kyoto Protocol. And the recent controversy over imports of Russian gas has underlined the importance of increasing Europe’s energy self-sufficiency. Raw materials for biofuel production also provide a potential new outlet for Europe’s farmers, who have been freed by CAP reform to become true entrepreneur."

Below are some excerpts from the adopted strategy.


European Strategy for Biofuels

The European Commission today adopted an ambitious EU Strategy for Biofuels, with a range of potential market-based, legislative and research measures to boost production of fuels from agricultural raw materials. The paper, which builds on the biomass action plan adopted in December 2005, sets out three main aims: to promote biofuels in both the EU and developing countries; to prepare for large-scale use of biofuels by improving their cost-competitiveness and increasing research into ‘second generation’ fuels; to support developing countries where biofuel production could stimulate sustainable economic growth. Increased use of biofuels will bring numerous benefits, by reducing Europe’s dependence on fossil fuel imports, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing new outlets for farmers and opening up new economic possibilities in several developing countries.

The Strategy picks out seven key policy axes, pulling together the measures the Commission will take to promote the production and use of biofuels.

1. Stimulating demand for biofuels.
The Commission will publish a report in 2006 on the possible revision of the implementation of the Biofuels Directive—a 2% market share for biofuels in 2005 and a 5.75% share in 2010. The 2005 target share of 2% biofuels was not achieved; at most, the countries obtained a 1.4% share. The Commission will encourage favorable treatment for second-generation biofuels in meeting biofuels obligations and encourage the Council and European Parliament to give speedy approval to its recently adopted legislative proposal to promote public procurement of clean and efficient vehicles, including those using high blends of biofuels.

2. Capturing environmental benefits.
The Commission will examine how biofuel use can count towards the CO2 emission reduction targets for car fleets; explore and, where appropriate, propose measures to ensure optimal greenhouse gas benefits from biofuels; work to ensure the sustainability of biofuel feedstock cultivation in the EU and third countries; and examine the issues of limits on the content of ethanol, ether and other oxygenates in petrol, limits on the vapour content of petrol, and limits on the biodiesel content of diesel.

3. Developing production and distribution of biofuels.
The Commission will propose a specific group to consider biofuels opportunities in rural development programs; and increase monitoring to ensure no discrimination against biofuels.

4. Extending supplies of feedstock.
The Commission is making sugar production for ethanol eligible for CAP support schemes; it will assess possibilities to process cereal intervention stocks; finance an information campaign for farmers and forest owners; bring forward a forestry action plan; and look into the possibilities for using animal by-products and clean waste.

5. Enhancing trade opportunities.
The Commission will assess the possibility of putting forward a proposal for separate customs codes for biofuels; it will pursue a balanced approach in trade talks with ethanol-producing countries; and propose amendments to the biodiesel standard to facilitate the use of a wider range of vegetable oils for biodiesel production, and allow ethanol to replace methanol in biodiesel production.

6. Supporting developing countries.
The Commission will ensure that measures for ACP Sugar Protocol countries affected by the EU sugar reform can be used to support the development of ethanol production; develop a coherent Biofuels Assistance Package for developing countries; and examine how best to assist national and regional biofuel platforms.

7. Research and development.
The Commission will continue to support the development of an industry-led Biofuel Technology Platform which will make recommendations for research in this sector. Biofuels will have a high priority in the 7th Framework Program, in particular bio-refineries and second generation biofuels. Through research, production costs could be cut considerably beyond 2010. Through its Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, the Commission will support market introduction and the dissemination of proven technologies.


Note from Green Car Congress: The Commission categorizes second-generation biofuels as including cellulosic ethanol and biomass-to-liquids (BtL) producing Fischer-Tropsch diesel and bio-DME (dimethyl ether). There are at present three pilot cellulosic ethanol plants in the EU (Sweden, Spain and Denmark). BtL demonstration plants are operating in Germany and Sweden. (Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) produced from renewable resources also is an area of potential EU focus.)


Helen said...

What about bio-fuels for central heating boilers? Are there any manufacturers producing domestic liquid bio-fuel boilers? Which liquid bio-fuels are available on the UK market that are economically viable? Are there any available to import?

C. Scott Miller, EDP said...

That question is outside the focus of this blog - not to say that it isn't a pressing question given the rapid increase in the price of natural gas. I recommend doing a search on "biofuel boiler" - there are 464 links on Google.