EU needs clear perspective for the role of biofuels

The use of biofuels has, in many cases, proven to be extremely beneficial, writes Marijana Petir.

Marijana Petir | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Marijana Petir

30 Oct 2017

Last year, there was a big debate around the renewable energy progress report. The data showed that the EU is on track to achieve national targets by 2020, but it also revealed a few problem sectors, where progress did not meet predictions or was significantly lacking.

Parliament’s resolution stated, among other things, the Commission should lay down a sustainability criteria for bioenergy, taking into account a thorough assessment of the functioning of existing

EU sustainability policies and the circular economy policies, recalling that a strengthening of EU energy security should be achieved through the sustainable use of own resources, in line with the objective of improving resource efficiency.


The Commission proposal of the RED II recast aims to respond to these needs, but it is missing certain key elements which could contribute to meeting the renewable target. In the transport sector for example, the existing policy caused a significant lag in the achievements of 10 per cent of the share of renewables. Should we continue such a problematic policy?

The use of biofuels has, in many cases, proved to be beneficial for our economy, especially for agriculture.

Interest in biofuels started picking up in 2001, and since then the EU has increased its production of protein-rich animal feed, from just 23 per cent self-sufficiency, to 35-40 per cent in 2015.

This production uses three to four per cent of agricultural land in the EU. In just the last 10 years, protein imports have dropped by 10 per cent, due to co-production of rapeseed protein.

The co-production of ethanol has also increased significantly in recent years. Using the same land to produce feed and biofuel is the right solution.

I advocate for a clear perspective for the role of biofuels until 2030 and to ensure sufficient investor security for return on investment. 

This is all needed to achieve the EU goals in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing of the Union’s energy independence on the import of fossil fuels from third countries.

These imports are costing us more than €1bn per day.

Biofuels are green if grown in compliance of the strict CAP rules, if used in co-production of the protein rich feed and they demonstrate greenhouse gas savings when compared to fossil fuels.

Also, the production of biofuels in rural areas is an important source of additional income for farmers.

By reducing the present-day biofuels production this could led to a crisis in the agricultural sector that has not been affected by the ongoing crisis so far.


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