Report: EU ethanol consumption to increase in 2019

By Erin Voegele | August 05, 2019

A recent report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network discusses the current use of biofuels in the European Union and the potential for increased use in the future.

According to the report, the EU has set a 10 percent target for renewable energy use in transport for 2020. That target increases to 14 percent in 2030, with advanced biofuels counting double to the target.

Taking double-counting into account, biofuels accounted for 7.1 percent of energy use in transportation last year and are expected to increase to 7.3 percent this year. The report indicates the increase is expected to be supported by increased imports.

Data included in the report shows that fuel ethanol production reached approximately 5.443 billion liters (1.44 billion gallons) in the EU last year, up from 5.38 billion liters in 2017. EU fuel ethanol production is expected to increase to 5.505 billion liters this year.

Fuel ethanol imports reached approximately 505 million liters in 2018, up from 238 million liters in 2017. Fuel ethanol imports are expected to increase slightly this year, reaching 570 million liters.

The EU exported approximately 91 million liters of fuel ethanol last year, up from 41 million liters in 2017. Exports this year are expected to reach 95 million liters.

Ethanol consumption is expected to reach 7.22 billion liters this year, up from 7.082 billion liters in 2018 and 6.89 billion liters in 2017.  

The average ethanol blend rate in the EU was 5.7 percent in 2018, up from 5.4 percent in 2017. The blend rate is expected to increase to 5.9 percent this year.

According to the report, the EU currently has 58 first-generation ethanol plants, a number that has remained stable since 2017. The capacity of those facilities was 8.66 billion liters last year, up from 8.6 billion liters in 2014. Capacity is expected to remain at 8.66 billion liters through 2019. Capacity use is expected to be up slightly, from 70 percent in 2017 and 2018 to 71 percent in 2019. The EU also currently has two cellulosic ethanol refineries, with a combined capacity of 60 million liters.

Sugar beet is expected to be the primarily feedstock for EU ethanol production this year, reaching 8.145 million metric tons, followed by wheat with 5.665 million tons, corn with 5 million tons, triticale with 720,000 tons, barley with 430,000 tons and rye with 418,000 tons.

Germany is expected to be the top EU consumer of ethanol this year, with 1.505 billion liters, followed by the U.K. with 925 million liters and France with 880 million liters. Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden are also among the top eight ethanol consuming countries in the EU.

France is expected to be the main ethanol producing country in the EU with year, with 1 billion liters, followed by Germany at 785 million liters, the U.K. with 695 million liters, Hungary with 645 million liters, Belgium with 645 million liters, the Netherlands with 565 million liters, Spain with 522 million liters, Poland with 265 million liters and Austria with 235 million liters.

Additional data can be found in the EU’s annual biofuel report on the GAIN website.