EU Agricultural Council adopts ILUC biofuel rules

By Erin Voegele | July 14, 2015

The Agricultural and Fisheries Council of the European Union has officially adopted the new rules to address indirect land use change (ILUC) impacts associated with biofuels. The directive was accepted by the European Parliament in late April. 

According to documents published by the Council, the new directive amends the 2009 renewable energy directive (RED) and the 1998 fuel quality directive (FQD). “The main purpose is to start the transition from conventional biofuels to biofuels that deliver substantial greenhouse gas savings and to establish a clear legislative framework for the production of biofuels, while protecting existing investments in the sector,” said the Council in a document released July 13.

The directive places a 7 percent cap on conventional biofuels that can count towards the RED targets and allows member states to set a lower cap. It also encourages the transition to advanced biofuels, includes a provision for double counting of feedstocks for advanced biofuels, and requires reporting on greenhouse gas emission savings from the use of biofuels to be carried out by fuel supplier and the commission.

ePURE, the European renewable ethanol association, said the new rules, which were discussed by EU institutions for three years, must now be transposed and implemented quickly to ensure Europe meets its climate and energy targets for transport. According to ePURE, EU member states have 24 months to transpose the new rules.

“Today’s political conclusion to the ILUC debate is long overdue. With only five years left to meet the climate and energy targets for transport, urgent action is now needed at national level to transpose and apply these new biofuel rules,” said Robert Wright, secretary general of ePURE. “Increasing the amount of sustainable biofuels on the EU market through the roll out of higher biofuel blends, such as E10, is the only realistic, cost-effective way for Member States to meet these targets.”

ePURE also indicated the European Commission recently warned that many member states are at risk of not reaching their renewable energy targets because they have not sufficiently developed their biofuel markets. According to the association, the JEC Biofuels Programme has determined the most favorable scenarios to meet the RED and FQD targets is when the use of ethanol is maximized through higher blends, such as E10. ePURE added that Europe currently has enough ethanol production capacity in place to provide 83 percent of the ethanol needed for full penetration of the petrol market by E10. The fuel blend, however, is currently only available in France, Germany and Finland. According to ePURE, other member states should prioritize its rollout.