‘Tough’ biofuels targets set in updated UK RTFO

Changes to the UK’s Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) will ‘double’ the use of renewable fuels in the UK transport sector, according to a statement from the Department of Transport.

Included in the revised (RTFO) are new biofuel targets set to come into force on 15 April.

Transport fuels owners who supply 450,000 litres a year or more will be compelled to make sure their mix is at least 12.4% biofuel by 2032.

At present the target is 4.75% biofuel. The legislation will affect suppliers to transport companies such as haulage firms and airlines.

“The changes we are introducing will double our carbon emissions savings from the Renewable Fuels Transport Obligation scheme by doubling the use of renewable fuels and reducing reliance on imported fossil diesel,” said Jesse Norman, the UK’s transport minister.

“This will deliver emissions savings equal to taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road.”



According to the statement, the changes to the RTFO will also, for the first time, reward and support the production of sustainable renewable aviation fuels in the UK.

“Providing sustainable fuel production for aircraft with the same economic incentives given to road vehicles is long overdue. This is a major step forward to help the UK aviation industry meet its carbon reduction targets,” said Willie Walsh, chief executive of the International Airline Group.

“These incentives have enabled alternative fuel sources to be developed for cars and lorries, while aviation has traditionally been heavily dependent on fossil fuels. This Government initiative will support our plans to build Europe’s first waste to jet biofuel plant in Britain, creating UK jobs and growth”.


Waste based and crop based biofuels

Also included in the revised RTFO are an additional target for advanced waste-based renewable fuels, starting at 0.1% in 2019 and rising to 2.8% in 2032.

At the same time, the new legislation sets a decreasing cap for crop based biofuels, in 2018 the maximum cap sits at 4%. Starting in 2021 this will decrease annually, reaching 3% in 2026 and 2% in 2032.

Currently, the majority of the biofuel in the UK comes from waste feedstocks, according to the Department of Transport.

“We welcome the increased targets for renewable transport fuels and are excited by the new regulations which will encourage the production of novel fuels for hard-to-decarbonise sectors," said Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association. 

“The UK’s renewable fuels have excellent environmental credentials and their manufacture supports almost 1,000 direct jobs, many of which are in the North East. As transport is now the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and air quality concerns are growing, this makes the transition to a cleaner system an imperative.”

According to the government, the new RTFO will contribute a third of the total savings from transport for the UK’s carbon budget.

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