Biofuel legislation – What’s the EU’s next move?

4 May 2015
EU uudistaa biopolttoainelainsäädäntöään

The future of biofuels in Europe is being reshaped by Finnish MEP Nils Torvalds (ALDE). His report to the European Parliament and Commission lays down foundations for a new directive on fuel quality and renewable energy.

Compiling this report was extremely challenging and interesting – after all, the legislation will have a considerable impact on various industries and on energy and climate policy throughout Europe,” Torvalds says. The European Union aims to cover 10% of fuel consumption in the transportation sector with renewable energy by 2020. The targeted proportion of renewable energy sources in total energy consumption is 20%.

“In order to reach these climate objectives, we will need both second-generation and third-generation renewable biofuels – there is no doubt about that. European companies hold considerable potential in the biofuels market, but we will also need clear political principles,” Torvalds emphasises.

Moving to the next generation

The aim of EU legislation is to reduce the usage of first-generation biofuels, as the raw materials for these fuels – such as maize and sugar cane – are also suitable for food production.

“Above all, the objective is to secure investment for the development of second-generation biofuels. Technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in this field in recent years, and we have seen many interesting new innovations in the sector,” notes Torvalds.

Second-generation biofuels are made of leftover material from logging, waste and non-food-based raw materials. The new legislation will hold great importance for Finland and other Nordic countries, where wood and biomass resources are key raw materials in the advanced biofuels markets.

“The format of the proposed legislation – in terms of sustainability criteria and the hierarchy of raw materials – currently requires local conditions and raw materials to be taken into consideration in energy production. This is important to Nordic manufacturers of biofuels, who use wood as a raw material.”

One of the proposed EU directive amendments is to specify the percentage of biofuels that each member state must include in its climate objectives based on its crop yields. The proposal also assigns binding milestones for the consumption of advanced biofuels.

The proposed amendment to the directive issued by the Commission has been under discussion in EU institutions since 2012. The final decision on its content is currently scheduled for negotiation between the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Commission this spring.

“Several member states do not wish to discontinue the production of firstgeneration biofuels, which in turn would slow down second-generation biofuel production. The solution reached in the negotiations between the EU institutions has enabled us to give a strong legislative signal to the industry encouraging investment to continue in this sector,” Torvalds concludes.

Vesa Puoskari

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