EU to alter RED to require advanced, cellulosic biofuels

By Erin Voegele | September 20, 2012

A leaked proposal by the European Commission reportedly indicates that European governments are considering altering the Renewable Energy Directive to place more emphasis on advanced biofuel feedstocks, while capping crop-based biofuel consumption at the current level of 5 percent. In addition, reports recently published by at least two European entities seem to be drawing more attention to the issue.

The International Council on Clean Transportation produced a report that focuses on indirect land use change (ILUC) and calls for the modification of existing EU biofuel mandates under the RED in order for the program to achieve its goal of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with transportation fuel. Another report published by Oxfam International, titled “The Hunger Grains,” claims that biofuel production is driving up food prices.

EU Commissioner of Energy Günther Oettinger and EU Commissioner of Climate Action Connie Hedegaard issued a joint statement in response to a press release issued by Oxfam regarding its report. Oettinger’s office shared a copy of that statement with Ethanol Producer Magazine.

"It is wrong to believe that we are pushing food-based biofuels. In our upcoming proposal for new legislation, we do exactly the contrary: We limit them to the current consumption level, that is 5 [percent] up to 2020. And the commission's message for post-2020 is that our clear preference are biofuels produced from non-food feedstocks, like waste or agricultural residues such as straw. These new type of biofuels are not in competition with food, nor do they require additional land. We are pushing biofuels that help us cutting substantial CO2-emissions, do not compete with food and are sustainable and green at the same time,” said Hedegaard and Oettinger in that statement.

According to Oettinger’s office, the European Commission will officially propose changes to the RED in October. The current legislation requires member states to reach 10 percent renewable energy it the transport sector by 2020. That target will be maintained, but altered to specify that a maximum of 5 percent of that 10 percent can come from biofuels produced from food sources, such as corn, wheat or soybeans while at least 5 percent must come from waste and residue feedstocks.