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Biofuels Legislative Framework

The main EC legislative framework that has been set to increase the use of biofuels in the European Market is presented below:

1. Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC)

The Renewable Energy Directive establishes an overall policy for the production and promotion of energy from renewable sources in the EU. It requires the EU to fulfil at least 20% of its total energy needs with renewables by 2020 – to be achieved through the attainment of individual national targets. All EU countries must also ensure that at least 10% of their transport fuels come from renewable sources by 2020.

On 30 November 2016, the Commission published a proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive to make the EU a global leader in renewable energy and ensure that the target of at least 27% renewables in the final energy consumption in the EU by 2030 is met.

The Directive specifies national renewable energy targets for each country, taking into account its starting point and overall potential for renewables. These targets range from a low of 10% in Malta to a high of 49% in Sweden.

EU countries set out how they plan to meet these targets and the general course of their renewable energy policy in national renewable energy action plans.

2. Fuel Quality Directive (2009/30/EC)

Fuels used for road transport in the EU have to meet strict quality requirements to protect human health and the environment and make sure that vehicles can safely travel from one country to another. Common fuel quality rules help to (a) reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions (b) to establish a single fuel market and ensure that vehicles can operate everywhere in the EU on the basis of compatible fuels.

The Fuel Quality Directive, requires a reduction of the greenhouse gas intensity of transport fuels by a minimum of 6% by 2020. Together with the Renewable Energy Directive, it regulates the sustainability of biofuels. The Fuel Quality Directive applies to

  • petrol, diesel and biofuels used in road transport
  • gasoil used in non-road-mobile machinery.

For biofuels to count towards the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, they must meet certain sustainability criteria to minimise the undesired impacts from their production. The Fuel Quality Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive set out the following requirements:

Greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels must be lower than from the fossil fuel they replace
– at least 50% (for installations older than 5 October 2015) and 60% for newer installations.

The raw materials for biofuels cannot be sourced from land with high biodiversity or high carbon stock.

3.Directive to reduce indirect land use change for biofuels and bioliquids ((EU) 2015/1513)

As global demand for biofuels rises, their production can contribute to the conversion of land such as forests and wetlands into agricultural land, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions. This is called indirect land use change (ILUC). These emissions from ILUC can significantly reduce or even wipe out the greenhouse gas savings from biofuels. To account for this, the amount of biofuels produced from cereal and other starch-rich crops, sugars and oil crops and from energy crops grown on agricultural land that can be counted as a source of renewable energy is limited to 7% of the energy in transport in the Member States in 2020.

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Site Last Updated

Tuesday 11 September 2018, 14:21