European groups oppose any phase-out of conventional biofuels

By Erin Voegele | November 18, 2016

ePURE, the European ethanol association, was among a group of trade organizations that recently issued a letter to the European Commission strongly opposing any phase-out of European Union support for conventional biofuels produced in Europe from European-grown crops and feedstock.

According to the letter, ethanol currently represents approximately 20 percent of the EU biofuel market.  The groups state any plan to phase out conventional ethanol would not be scientifically justified, would rob the transportation industry of a credible green alternative, and would cost European cereal and beet farmers at least €2.1 billion ($2.23 billion) in revenue per year.

Within the letter, the groups stress that ethanol, both conventional and advanced, has been shown to be entirely sustainable and a readily available and cheap solution to reduce transport emissions. The letter argues ethanol will be vital to meeting the 18-19 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions needed in road transport. Other options, such as electrification, will not ramp up quickly enough to have a substantial impact on emissions by 2030. The letter also points out that electricity is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

The groups note that European ethanol has been shown to achieve GHG savings of 64 percent when compared to gasoline. Last year, European ethanol companies produced 4.5 billion liters (1.19 billion gallons) of ethanol, reducing GHG emission by 6 million metric tons. In 2015, European-produced ethanol offset the need for an estimated 19 billion barrels of gasoline, or roughly 4 percent of Europe’s gasoline consumption.

Regarding the commissions rational for phasing out conventional ethanol, the letter notes the commission’s own report showed that increased ethanol demand in Europe has not increased food prices. The letter also addresses the benefits of animal feed coproduct production and notes that European citizens support sustainable biofuels, both conventional and advanced.

Within the letter, the groups also discuss the future of European biofuels policy, noting that the current sustainability certification regime in Europe should be strengthened to ensure biofuels are promoted in policy after 2020. The letter also calls on the EU to prioritize the use of biofuels manufactured from feedstocks produced in Europe, maintain the existing sustainability rules for conventional biofuels, introduce full sustainability criteria and traceability requirements for all advanced biofuels, apply equivalent sustainability rules to other transport fuels, and strengthen the sustainability criteria for imported biofuels.

In addition to ePURE, the letter is also signed by leaders of the European Association of Sugar Manufacturers, the European Confederation of Maize Production, and the International Confederation of European Beet Growers. A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the ePURE website