EU figures on biofuels' GHG savings 'questionable'

2nd August 2012


Bio

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Transport ,
  • Energy ,
  • Procurement ,
  • Renewable

Author

IEMA

The European Commission's calculations on the sustainability of biofuels have been thrown into doubt by the findings of new research showing that potential greenhouse gas (GHG) savings did not meet legislative requirements

In a study examining the sustainability of biodiesels made from rapeseed oil, researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University in Germany carried out a series of life-cycle analyses of the fuels and compared the GHG savings generated to those stated as “typical” in Annex V of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

While the RED states the production and use of rapeseed biodiesel generates between 38%-45% fewer GHG emissions than the equivalent amount of fossil fuel, the German study found that savings could be as little as 25%.

Under the requirements of the RED, biofuels must generate GHG savings of at least 35% to be considered as “sustainable” but, of the 12 different scenarios examined by academics, only four met this baseline and just two fell within the range calculated by the commission.

“Our results indicate that the ‘sustainability’ of rapeseed biodiesel in the interpretation of RED is at best very questionable, and in most scenarios simply unjustifiable,” the report states.

“Given these striking differences [in emissions savings], as well as the lack of transparency in the EU’s calculations, we assume that the EU seems to prefer ‘politically’ achieved typical and default values regarding rapeseed biodiesel over scientifically proven ones.”

The commission declined to comment on the findings, but a spokeswoman said: “Different studies can come to different results, depending on the assumptions used.”

The RED requires all EU members to ensure 10% of land transport fuel is sourced renewably by 2020. As a result, under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation all transport fuels sold in the UK must contain a blend of at least 4% biofuels. This will rise to 5% from April 2013.

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Swing voters show strong support for renewables

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker has found broad support for efforts to tackle climate change, although there are significant concerns that bills will rise.

13th March 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close