EU Commission biofuels policy u-turn threatens EU leadership in biogas production


The Commission’s draft proposal on iLUC campaigns irrationally and inconsistently against the EU’s own long-term targets on reducing emissions in the transport sector. In addition to sustainability, the EU should consider social factors.

The proposal jeopardises around 40,000 green jobs in the German biogas industry alone. At the same time, millions of Euros already invested in the biofuels sector will be wasted. The application of a static and unspecific factor for indirect land use change (iLUC) and the introduction of quadruple counting for some waste-derived biofuels does not solve the environmental problem in transport.

Biogas upgraded to the quality of natural gas,biomethane, can reduce thousands of tonnes of GHG emissions in European transport. The level of biomethane powered public transport in the EU and the number of refuelling station is increasing, partly as a result of the EU’s previous transport and climate policies. This positive development seen to date is at risk, particularly in Europe’s biogas engine, Germany, if the Commission’s new, irresponsible, proposal is passed.

European Biogas Association (EBA) accepts the CO2 saving target of at least 60% for biofuels and bioliquids produced in new installations but contests the 5% cap for fuels produced from crops: the 60% target will in any case lead to the most environmentally friendly fuels.

In order to sustain European competitiveness, a level-playing field with the rest of the world should be established: stricter biofuels targets and caps than elsewhere will result in disadvantages to the European biofuels business and increase imported fuels.

The European Commission should also take biomethane’s unique characteristics into account in its proposal addressing the iLUC issue. Unlike biodiesel or bioethanol, biomethane is in most parts of Europe mainly used for electricity and heating and its full deployment also in the field of transport would need clear political incentives. With the leaked proposal, biomethane for transport would be distorted by a stricter CO2 reduction obligation than for biomethane injected into the grid and subsequently used for CHP or heating and cooking purposes.

Before establishing any lists of fuels produced from waste materials entitled for multiple counting of energy, EBA calls for a proper EU definition for waste as well as for a review of the waste materials promoted. Yet, the list of waste materials is clearly not comprehensive. For example sewage sludge and industrial solid and liquid biowastes are environmentally valuable resources and significant biogas substrates in Europe, as is landfill gas. The absurd quadruple counting means in practice that the 2020 target could be met with a half of the biofuels produced today. However, with the virtual energy no fossil fuel can be replaced.

For further information please contact:

Susanna Litmanen, European Biogas Association                                                                                   E: T: +32 2400 1088

Posted in: ADBA News, Industry News, Members' press release, News for Members, Policy updates, R&D Updates

Tags: biofuels, EBA, EU Commission, germany