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Preliminary RED II deal agreed – what’s the biofuels industry saying?

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The European Parliament, Commission and Council have reached a preliminary agreement on the new Renewable Energy Directive (REDII). The deal sets out a path for Europe’s renewable energy sector post 2020.

Key components of the agreement include a 14% target for renewables in transport by 2030, a freeze on the use of high ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change) biofuels such as palm oil to current levels with a phase out by 2030,  and a cap on member state’s crop based biofuels to 2020 levels, with a maximum of 7%.

Member States will also have the option to decide on the level of use of waste feedstocks such as used cooking oil and animal fats, while the first binding targets on advanced biofuels have also been set.

Policy makers came to an agreement on the new legislation in the early hours of 14 June in Strasbourg. The agreement reached in the trialogue negotiations still needs to be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council.

 

Positives

Major European biofuel trade associations have responded quickly to the RED II announcement.

In a statement, ePURE, the European association for renewable ethanol, describes the agreement as one “that clearly recognises the importance of separating bad biofuels like palm oil from good ones like European ethanol.”

Meanwhile, EWABA, the European association for waste based biodiesel producers, summarises the RED II deal as “a balanced agreement which improves the original Commission proposal,” lauding the “significant compulsory presence of waste-based biofuels” as an indicator of the European Commission’s commitment to decarbonising the transport sector.

“This is a pragmatic compromise. The REDII provides a stable framework for the consolidation of the waste-based biodiesel industry to continue delivering significant greenhouse gas savings in the EU transport sector” Angel Alvarez Alberdi, Secretary General of EWABA, said in a statement.

“The inclusion of double counting to incentivise production of waste-based biodiesel from used cooking oil and animal fats constitutes a solid policy incentive and a clear signal for investors.”

Neste, a major producer of renewable diesel, shared this positive outlook: “Based on the information we have, it seems that the current broad raw material base, including waste and residues and sustainable vegetable oils, as raw materials for producing renewable fuels is maintained,” said Ilkka Räsänen, Director of Public Affairs at Neste.

 

Not perfect

Although agreeing with EWABA’s assessment that the final RED II deal is an improvement on the original Commission proposal, ePURE’s secretary general Emmanuel Desplechin expressed disappointment with some elements, especially the cap on crop based biofuels.

“Of course, this is not a perfect solution. Allowing Member States to undermine the transport target by lowering the crop cap or relying on artificial multipliers gives the illusion of progress and puts Europe’s commitment to decarbonising transport into question.

“Capping crop-based biofuels at 2020 levels also unfairly penalises sustainable biofuels like European renewable ethanol, which if given the chance could drive EU decarbonisation even further – but it is a major improvement over the initial proposal from the Commission.”

Desplechin continued: “Member States should now get on with the work of implementing the 2020 objectives and show that Europe is a place that can provide the policy stability investors need. A solid crop-based ethanol industry is needed to spur investment in advanced ethanol.”

Tina Sejersgård Fanø, executive vice president of Agriculture & Bioenergy at Novozymes, shares Desplechin’s concerns for the caps that look set to be placed on conventional biofuels.

“It is questionable […] that the EU persists with limiting the contribution of sustainable conventional biofuels. That is at odds with the international consensus that they are necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement. All good solutions are needed in the energy transition required to achieve Europe’s climate goals – and sustainable biofuels are critical to transport decarbonisation.

“We also regret the amount of multipliers that can be used to achieve the transport target; these are misleading European citizens on the real level of ambition – and provide more space for the continuous use of fossil fuels in transport. 

 

Emmanuel Desplechin and Angel Alvarez Alberdi, as well as Neste’s vice president for R & D: Petri Lehmus, will be speaking at the Biofuels International Congress & Expo on 10-11 October in Berlin, Germany. A number of special discounts on delegate passes for the event are currently available here.