Biofuels International 2017: Q&A session with Ethanol Europe Renewables’ James Cogan

The Biofuels International Conference, a world leading biofuels event, will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 4 and 5 October 2017, covering the whole biofuels supply chain. The show will focus on all the new developments and the latest challenges.

Topics covered in the seminars include global policy uncertainty, reintroducing E10, REDII, and the future of the bioethanol market.

For the first time, the Biofuels International Conference will be co-located with Bioenergy Insight Conference & Expo 2017. Topics on the bioenergy side include financing bioenergy projects, Brexit's impact on bioenergy and the global biomass supply chain.

Major names including Shell, Gevo, the National Biodiesel Board, the European Biodiesel Board and Platts will attend the conference.

Among them will be James Cogan, technology, industry and policy analyst at Ethanol Europe Renewables. He shares his thought on the biofuels industry below.

·        What role can biofuels play in the low-carbon economy?

Biofuels can nearly instantly reduce the fossil carbon emissions of the world's current fleet of vehicles by 10%-20% with modest levels of blending.  People often forget that despite the terrific progress in electric vehicles technology and renewable electricity generation the fleet of fossil burning vehicles is still growing much quicker than the electric fleet and that new fossil vehicles will stay on the road for a couple of decades.  Biofuels kick in today.  And they are excellent for rural economies and for bioeconomies too.

·         What will the policy and operational landscape look like in 2018 in the EU?

 In the EU in 2018 we may well still be stuck in the limbo we've been for nearly a decade as policy makers fail to write regulations capable of distinguishing between climate and environmentally friendly biofuels and those that do more harm than good. Civil society lobbyists that dismiss scientific rigour are part of the problem. The industry must itself must get better at making and communicating the distinctions.  EU regulators must provide smarter and more proactive governance and enforcement.  We are actually a hairsbreath away from a new era of progress if Europe's new renewables legislation goes the right way.

·        What is the next trend of the industry?

The next big trend in the industry is actually the same as the last big trend which is the high rate of innovation and efficiency improvement in the conventional biofuels sector. Yields are improving and this translates directly into greater greenhouse gas savings. Europe's conventional biofuels are on average close to 70% better than fossil fuels and improving 10%-20% each decade.  And this is all without causing adverse land use effects abroad.

·        What is set to be big for biofuels for the rest of the year?

Regulation regulation regulation. Europe's REDII law is in the late stages of drafting and will be near complete by December.  If law making and sausage making have in common that you don't want to see how they're done REDII is particularly grotesque.  Anyone who cares about the climate, good biofuels, Europe's rural economies and the quality of legislation itself should weigh in and help get REDII fixed. 

·        What represents the biggest threat for biofuels?

The biggest threats for biofuels are palm oil diesel which results in deforestation (which is all of it as far as I can see), imported fake used cooking oil and lobbyists who lobby either for impossible unscientific dreams or for obscure self-serving exceptions, instead of for a solid legislative framework designed to address genuinely the climate challenge. They all distract from the real job at hand.

·        What is the next thing industry should do more of?

 The next thing the industry should do is create a much stronger and more ambitious EU-wide biofuels advocacy and marketing board on a scale proportionate to the size of the sector and the value that it brings to Europe.  Most people have no notion of what biofuels are and the benefits they bring. The products themselves are the same no matter who makes them so it makes sense to have a joined-up approach. Imagine how great it would be to have a biofuels portfolio with strong brand identities and positive consumer recognition across the entire continent.

Cogan will be giving a talk on ‘Conventional EU ethanol: Safe, effective and free of adverse side effects’ on the second day of the Biofuels International Conference on 5th October at 10am.

To find out more about the biofuels market come and visit the tenth Biofuels International Conference & Expo. Register now for Biofuels International 2017 for two days of essential learning to network with experts, sharpen your biofuels knowledge and improve your skills, on 4-5 October.

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