EU must pave the road for transport biofuels
Brussels, 11/07/2019 – 93% of our transport – be it via roads, rail, sea or air – is still reliant on fossil fuels, accounting for a quarter of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. You’re prompted to believe we’re living a bright, technological transition to new forms of propulsion for our vehicles, but the reality is much different, and sooner or later our dependence from fossil fuels must come to a halt.
International organizations such as the IEA and IRENA have pointed out that the EU will have to greatly increase its usage of bioenergy to have any real success at decarbonizing the European economy and shifting to a low GHG emission mobility infrastructure. Biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel are certainly part of the solution, they have been around for a while and are among the most efficient tools Europe has in the fight against climate change.
The advantages of biofuels are numerous: for start, you don’t need to re-think vehicles or infrastructures from scratch. Biofuels easily adapt to the existing technology and infrastructure, allowing for considerable savings of manufacturing costs and energy, but also of precious materials and the processes needed to extract them.
Biofuels and food production can also go hand in hand: some crops used to produce biofuels can also provide animal feed, which the EU currently imports in large quantities. Switch from imports to domestic production and you can mitigate the negative effects of land use change in the exporting countries – for instance!
The biofuel industry is also a very well-oiled cog of the circular economy mechanisms: in recent years, the use of animal fats and used cooking oil to produce biodiesel has grown exponentially, now representing a quarter of the overall biodiesel production. And the biorefinery model, with crops producing renewable fuel, high-protein feed, and captured CO2, is one that should be more widely adopted.
But it’s not just about cars. Projections for 2050 suggest that aviation and maritime transport will be responsible for 10% to 33%, respectively, of global carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 – a spike driven by increased global trade and the spreading of low-cost air carriers (the number of air passengers in Europe and globally, for example, has tripled since 1990).
Brussels now needs to ramp up efforts in deploying extra incentives for research & development in transport biofuels to accelerate their market deployment, but also to introduce a much-needed carbon-tax on fossil fuels, for instance.
Trade association Bioenergy Europe has today released its 2019 Report on Biofuels for Transport, in collaboration with ePURE, to provide policy makers and other stakeholders with the most up-to-date figures on the sector and a useful eagle-eye view on the matters at hand.
For those who don’t have time to dive into detailed figures, a short policy brief has also been made available. The two-pager includes highlights and a selection of graphs, providing an overview of the current dynamics of our electricity system at a glance.