Posted: 17 October, 2012. Written by REA News
Renewable Energy Association
17th October 2012
REA warns that the feedstock cap and withdrawal of support after 2020 are likely to restrict further innovation in this sector of the green economy
The European Commission today formally announced the changes it intends to make to existing Europe-wide biofuels legislation . Draft versions of the proposals have been leaked to the press over the past month . While the proposals are not as damaging as the leaked versions had suggested, there are still several issues which threaten jobs and investment in this budding sector of the green economy.
REA Head of Renewable Transport Clare Wenner  comments:
“We are pleased to see that the European Commission has listened to industry’s concerns, which we have had to articulate under great pressure in a very short time frame. The decision not to implement mandatory ILUC factors until sufficient research has been carried out is welcome.
“However, the proposals to cap crop-based biofuels at 5% of transport and to withdraw support altogether after 2020 remain. These proposals constitute a wholesale withdrawal of political support from the Commission, and will deter the very investors that the Commission wants to invest in innovations for non-food advanced biofuels.”
The proposals present five main areas of concern for the REA.
To date, nearly £1 billion has been invested in the UK in the production of sustainable biofuels, and although our industry now supports 200 companies and 3,500 jobs across the supply chain , it remains small by EU standards.
The biofuels sector is the only large scale fuels sector where mandatory sustainability standards are legally enforceable. Targets set under the RED have ensured that Government and industry can robustly differentiate between sustainable and unsustainable biofuels. The UK industry has been particularly innovative in meeting these requirements, achieving average greenhouse gas (GHG) savings from UK-produced biofuels of 77%  while increasing co-production of animal feeds . The Government’s ‘Bioenergy Strategy’ recognises the role of biofuels in meeting carbon targets over the next 20 years .
Clare Wenner concluded:
“The UK biofuels industry is among the best performing in the world, both in terms of sustainability and innovation. The Commission’s heavy handed approach risks alienating investors with the result that transport will remain a haven for fossil fuels.
“The fact is that first-generation biofuels are absolutely essential to meeting our climate and renewable energy targets for as long as the internal combustion engine remains the norm – consumer acceptance of electric vehicles (and the clean grid they need to be low carbon) are still a long way off. If investors cannot do business in the lower risk first generation market, they are unlikely to put millions more pounds into the costlier, riskier second generation market.
“The facts around the impact of biofuels on climate and global food prices are very poorly represented in the public debate. What we need is policy-making which differentiates between good biofuels and bad biofuels, and this is what we will be communicating to MEPs over the months to come.”
For further information or to request an interview, please contact:
REA Press Office: +44 (0)2079 810 856, or:
Name: Clare Wenner
Title: Head of Renewable Transport, REA
Tel: +44 (0)7802 487 679
Notes to Editors
1. European Commission: ‘New Commission proposal to minimise the climate impacts of biofuel production’, 17th October 2012. Available at: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-1112_en.htm
2. See for example:
Reuters: ‘Exclusive: EU to limit use of crop-based biofuels - draft law’, 10th September 2012. Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/09/10/us-eu-biofuels-idUKBRE8890SJ20120910
Reuters: ‘EU Commission to cap food-based biofuels in major shift’, 17th September 2012. Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/09/17/us-eu-biofuel-idUKBRE88G0IL20120917
3. The Renewable Energy Association represents renewable energy producers and promotes the use of all forms of renewable energy in the UK across power, heat, transport and renewable gas. It is the largest renewable trade association in the UK, with over 900 members, ranging from major multinationals to sole traders. For more information, see: http://www.r-e-a.net
4. REA/Innovas: ‘Renewable Energy: Made in Britain’, 23rd April 2012. Executive Summary available at: http://www.r-e-a.net/resources/pdf/61/Renewable_Energy_-_Made_in_Britain_Executive_Summary.pdf
5. See ‘Verified RTFO biofuel statistics: obligation year 2010/11’, 29th March 2012, p. 27, Table 7. Available at: http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/verified-rtfo-biofuel-statistics-2010-11/year-3-verified-report.pdf
6. Read more about the uses of co-products from biofuel production in the animal feed industry in the winter 2012 issue of REA News: ‘Food and Fuel 2: Biofuels’ by Dr Michael Marsden, p. 23, available at: http://issuu.com/newnorth/docs/rea_news_winter_2012_lr/23?mode=window
7. DECC/Defra/DfT: ‘The Bioenergy Strategy,’ 26th April 2012. Available at:http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/meeting_energy/bioenergy/strategy/strategy.aspx
The Bioenergy Strategy states (p. 51) that:
“Potentially for as long as we use fossil fuels, sustainable first generation biofuels … offer a cost-effective contribution to reduced emissions from transport in line with our carbon reduction objectives.”
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