The EU is still overly reliant on fossil fuels for transportation and the Member States are lagging behind in efforts to promote renewable energy sources such as sustainable biofuels, according to new EU data. The new figures confirm the importance of preserving a role in Fit for 55 policies for proven solutions such as crop-based biofuels to meet ambitious climate goals says ePURE, the European Renewable Ethanol Association.
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Sustainable crop-based biofuels remain the main source of renewable energy in transportation but are still needlessly restricted in how much they can help meet climate goals
According to updated figures from 2021 in Eurostat’s SHARES database, the EU remains far from curbing its use of fossil fuels.
The data shows that in 2021 the share of renewable energy sources in transport (RES-T) at the EU-27 level was 9.1 percent including multipliers under the Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II).
That represents a 1.2 percent decrease from 2020, mainly due to a change of methodology under RED II, but also to the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis which saw a strong increase in total transport energy consumption paired with a mild increase in renewable energy consumption.
Importantly, a significant amount of the reported renewable energy consumption is still artificially inflated using multipliers for certain biofuels or renewable electricity – which gives a misleading picture of progress toward climate goals.
Under the revised RED II the EU needs to speed up progress. The 13 percent GHG emissions reduction target would be equivalent to 28 percent RES-T with the RED II methodology. In other words, the EU would need to triple in 9 years what it has barely accomplished in the last 20 or so years. If the Commission keeps restricting the use of proven solutions such as sustainable crop-based biofuels, we will have to rely on accounting tricks and multipliers to achieve the objectives of Fit for 55, said David Carpintero, Director General of ePURE.
Still overly reliant on fossil fuels
Under the new RED II methodology in 2021, only seven EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, and Sweden) are above 10 percent RES-T, which was the target for 2020 under RED I.
While Finland and Sweden have already largely incorporated renewables in their transport energy mix, already surpassing the 14 percent RED II target for 2030, other countries have barely made any progress in this regard and still rely massively on fossil fuels.
Crop-based biofuels represented the majority of renewables in transport with 54.3 percent, despite volumes of sustainable crop-based biofuels being excluded from contributing to the RES-T due to the existence of a cap under the RED II methodology.
Annex IX-A and B feedstock-based biofuels accounted for 11.7 percent and 15.4 percent respectively.
The choice is clear: do we want real renewables such as sustainable biofuels that actually contribute to the fight against climate change, or artificial renewables – multipliers that exist only on paper and do nothing to reduce emissions? Replacing crop-based biofuels with multipliers, as some in the German government want to do, only leaves the door open for more fossil fuels, argued David Carpintero.
Adopting E10 would go a long way
For many EU countries, boosting renewables in transportation could be achieved now by adopting E10, containing up to 10 percent renewable ethanol, as a standard petrol grade. Some countries, such as France and Sweden, are already using E85, with up to 85 percent renewable ethanol.
The way forward should be clear to policymakers. Crop-based biofuels such as renewable ethanol are the most immediate, cost-effective, sustainable, and socially inclusive emissions-reduction solution the EU has. Unleashing their potential should be a paramount goal for this year if Europe truly wants to deliver on its 2030 objectives and beyond, ended David Carpintero.