EU shows growth in ethanol production, use

By | July 15, 2010
Posted July 28, 2010

After strong growth approaching 60 percent in 2008, European fuel ethanol production continued to increase growing 31 percent in 2009. "This gives a clear signal to all doubters that European bioethanol is here to stay and to fulfill its increasingly important role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and in contributing to energy security," eBIO, the European ethanol association, said in releasing the numbers.

Total EU production in 2009 was an estimated 3.7 billion liters up from 2.8 billion liters the previous year (980 million gallons and 740 million gallons, respectively). Several countries increased their ethanol fuel production considerably in 2009. The biggest producer is still France with an annual output in 2009 of 1.250 billion liters, an increase of 25 percent compared to 2008. The second largest producing country is Germany, which constantly increased its production by 32 percent to 750 million liters (568 in 2008). Third biggest producer remained Spain with 465 million liters (up 46 percent compared to 2008). In six out of 18 producing member states, the production declined while 10 increased production volumes and eight remained steady.

Notably in 2009, Austria and Sweden more than doubled their fuel ethanol output. Austria's 102 percent growth ranks it fourth in EU production and Sweden's 124 percent growth puts it in fifth place.

EU consumption is also seeing substantial growth. Total EU consumption grew 23 percent, reaching 4.3 billion liters in 2009, up from 3.5 billion liters in 2008. The biggest consuming country was Germany at 1.143 billion liters, followed by France at 798 million liters and Sweden at 377 million liters. Compared to the overall size of its fuel sector, Sweden leads in relative ethanol fuel consumption.

Brazil is still the most important third-country supplier of fuel ethanol. Due to lower ethanol production, exports from Brazil were reduced by around 200 million liters in 2009 compared to 800 million liters of fuel ethanol exported to the EU in 2008. However, 2009 showed a strong increase in ethanol imports from Nicaragua, Costa Rica and for the first time, the U.S. As EU trade statistics do not distinguish among ethanol imports by end-use, it is not possible to tell how much precisely of all imported ethanol was used in the fuel stream.