Biofuels post 2020 - latest views from the coalface

The annual ISCC meeting in Brussels is turning into a go-to event for players in the bioeconomy. This year the theme was ‘Implementation of the Paris COP 21 Agreement – Decarbonization and Sustainability’. The discussions predictably, turned towards the future of biofuels in Europe post 2020.

European government representatives from the UK, Finland, the Netherlands and Austria had their own views on the provisions of the RED 2. There was some disquiet about the proposed cap (1.7%) on biofuel derived from cooking oil, tallow and molasses post 2020. These fuels are recognised by the Commission as low ILUC and there is potential to commercialise new sources of UCO from waste water, home collection and high acidity sources. Any cap is likely to halt the search for new sustainable sources of these wastes. Perhaps it will be dropped from the RED II? 

The concept of low ILUC bioethanol is being used by producers of first generation ethanol in Europe, to argue that it should not be subject to a cap post 2020 .  The GLOBIOM Report and the Commission’s own acceptance that biofuel crops from unused land do not cause ILUC, are potent arguments to support the concept. Bioethanol is generally agreed to be much lower in ILUC than biodiesel so it saves considerable GHG emissions, even taking into account the global average ILUC factor for bioethanol in the RED. Yet only one of the government representatives (Austria) spoke out in favour of first generation biofuels and stated that they would be arguing against the proposed phasing out of first generation biofuels post 2020.

Returning to the present, the biofuels sustainability schemes that expired at the beginning of August are still not yet reapproved. ISCC is now telling its certificate holders that they cannot accept shipments of biofuels certified by expired schemes (Bonsucro, RTRS, RBSA (Abengoa) and Greenergy): something to bear in mind for Schemes which will expire in 2017, (Ensus, Red Tractor, REDcert, NTA8080, RSPO).

Published: 1 March 17

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