On Tuesday, the European Parliament voted in favour of the compromise which was reached with the European Council about legislative changes with regard to Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) impacting renewable fuel production and use.
In the current legislation all EU member states are required to ensure that 10% of energy consumed in transportation is renewable. The overall 10% target remains unchanged, but the approved amendments introduce several changes:
[i] So-called first generation biofuels (from crops grown on agricultural land) should account for no more than 7% of energy consumed in transportation by 2020;
[ii] Fuel suppliers must report the estimated levels of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions caused by ILUC;
[iii] The Commission must report and publish these ILUC-related emissions, and;
[iv] The Commission is required to report to Parliament and Council how these ILUC figures will be included in sustainability criteria.
For Power-to-Liquid technologies, including CO2 based methanol, it is important to note that such fuels are now included as renewable energy from non-biological origin provided the energy contained in the fuel is derived from renewable electricity.
“We succeeded in getting a very technical, technological and ideological file to go ahead,” said lead MEP Nils Torvalds(ALDE, FI), after Parliament endorsed the law.
But Mr Torvalds also wondered aloud whether the law, as amended, was tough enough.
“We had much higher goals. Both in terms of greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and technological progress. If Europe doesn’t move forward, it will be left behind. We also have the systemic problem of the blocking minority in Council, which sometimes develops into a dictatorship of the minority, with member states who are afraid of the future,” he added.
The endorsement by Parliament puts an end to a 3-year legislative procedure which has had a noticeable effect on investments and caused much uncertainty and concern in the EU biofuels market.
The European Associations representing the biodiesel chain (The European Oilseed Alliance, the European Biodiesel Board, and Fediol), while noting that the agreement is imperfect, were nonetheless happy that a compromise was able to be found which recognizes the importance of the EU biofuels sector and the investments made, while acknowledging the existing doubts around the concept and measurement of ILUC factors.
An amendment submitted by MI on CO2 based fuels was included in the final package. Many EU member states have shown an interest in using renewable methanol production as a liquid energy sequestration solution.
Member states are required to have implemented these legislative changes by 2017. More information can be found here.