Europe

Europe was initially a leader in biofuel legislation and in the production and consumption of biodiesel. However, recent information regarding the cost to the food supply chain and the revision of carbon dioxide statistics towards greater CO2 output for biofuels have convinced the European Union to rethink its biofuel policy. Until advanced biofuels can be demonstrated effective, environmentally beneficial (compared to fossil fuels), and are guaranteed not to drive up food prices, the EU has proposed a 5.75% cap on the fraction of fuel that is biofuel. Ratification by member states is still pending.

Given that Europe is governed, at least partially, by the intergovernmental European Union, attention will be given to the rules of the EU over the rules of individual countries in this article. Where policy differs greatly or where biofuel production is additionally subsidized by individual governments to a high degree will be mentioned as well.

European Union Biofuel Strategy

1.       Biofuels Directive

a.        Ensures sustainable production and environmental responsibility

                                                               i.      GHG emissions reductions are emphasized

                                                              ii.      Encourages member states to invest in production and distribution technologies

                                                            iii.      Expands feedstock supplies, including sugar production for bioethanol

b.       Provides for enhanced trade between EU member states

c.        Provides for national targets and biofuel obligations

d.       Provides support for research and innovation

2.       Energy Taxation Directive

a.        Reduces differences in taxes on energy products between member states

b.       Increases incentives for energy efficiency usage

3.       Seventh Framework Programme

a.        Cooperation Porgramme

                                                               i.      Stimulates cooperative research into food, agriculture, biotech, transport, and environmental areas

b.       Ideas Programme

                                                               i.      Stimulates enhanced exploratory research in Europe

c.        People Programme

                                                               i.      Provides financial resources for research

d.       Capacities Programme

                                                               i.      Provides for investment in research infrastructure

4.       Biomass Action Plan

a.        Goal to increase biomass use from 69 million tonnes of oil equivalent to 150 million tonnes of oil equivalent

b.       Facilitates use of certain biomass, like vegetable oils, for biodiesel

c.        Maintains market access conditions for imported bioethanol

d.       Supports countries that want to produce biofuels and develop their domestic markets

5.       Advanced Biofuels Flightpath

a.        Initiative to produce 2 million tons of sustains biofuels for civil aviation by 2020

b.       Facilitates development of standards and certification for drop-in biofuels

c.        Promotes public and private actions to ensure uptake of biofuels by aviation

d.       Provides for financing structures to facilitate project

e.       Focuses on advanced biofuel technologies, specifically algae

Biodiesel

 

Though there is interest in and demand for bioethanol in Europe, the continent tends to import ethanol and produce biodiesel. When broken down by production in millions of liters per year among EU member countries, biodiesel producers in Europe can be ranked as follows.

Country

Production

 (millions of liters per year)

Germany

2,859

France

2,206

Spain

967

Italy

830

Belgium

468

Poland

374

Netherlands

364

Austria

349

Portugal

282

Finland

248

Czech Republic

185

United Kingdom

154

Denmakr

151

Hungary

150

Slovakia

114

Sweden

112

Lithuania

110

Greece

87

Latvia

50

Romania

33

Bulgaria

28

Estonia

27

Ireland

19

Cyprus

10

Slovenia

10

Malta

1

Luxembourg

0

Total

10,187

Modified from Table: production of fuel-biodiesel in the EU-27 and Switzerland 2009 (http://www.biofuels-platform.ch/en/infos/eu-biodiesel.php)

Germany

The German government has made a strong commitment to increases it use of renewable and green energy, which explain why it is the leader in biodiesel production in Europe and an up and coming force in bioethanol production. Part of the impetus for clean renewable energy is created by the global warming crisis and another part is created by energy independence as Germany was reliant on 90% imported oil previously.  The Germany government supports biofuel production and environmental responsibility through the following legislation.

1.       Renewable Energy Directive

a.        Part of the EU guidelines. Germany fully supports

2.       German “Biofuels” Biomass Sustainability Ordinance

a.        Provides for no utilization of biomass in high-level  nature conservation area

b.       Sets obligations and limits for various regions for the production of biomass

3.       Other regulatory measures

a.        Tax incentives for biodiesel

b.       Mandates on the percent of biofuel that vehicle fuels must contain

Recently Germany has considered a complete band on sales of biofuels. This comes as a result of drought conditions in major crop areas like the United States and Russia. The drought has led to widespread increases in crop prices and thus increased famine in poorer areas. Because biofuel use increases the price of food, Germany's Development Minster has demanded an end to biofuel use, which would require the EU to revise policies regarding CO2 emissions. Until now, biofuel has been used as a means of reducing CO2 emissions without forcing changes in driving habits, increasing fuel prices, etc.

France

Like Germany, France has recently sought to suspend its biofuels programs as a result of food price fluctuations. French President Francois Hollande has said that the United States and China, the major biofuel producers in the world, must agree on strategic food stocks for offsetting environmental problems like drought before biofuel production could be resumed. Until now, France has subsidized biofuel crop production as well as biofuel research and development. France is Europe's second largest producer of biodiesel and had planned to make mandatory a 10% blend of biofuel in all fuels by 2020. Given the recent change in global food supplies, France has capped its maximum lend at 7% until further consideration can be given to the food chain and advanced biofuel systems that do not rely on food for feedstock can be developed.

Spain

Spain, through Abengoa, is the leader in the production of bioethanol in Europe. It maintains its lead and promotes the use of biofuel in transport through several legislative measures.

1.       Mandates 6.1% biofuel by volume by 2013

2.       Does not account for indirect land use changes when calculating carbon intensity of biofuels, allowing them to escape carbon taxation