In Germany, production of certified sustainable bioethanol fuel reached around 0.67 million tonnes in 2017, representing a decline of 8.8 percent compared with the previous year. Consumption fell slightly by just under 2.0 percent to around 1.15 million tonnes whereas sales of Super E10 increased according to 2017 market data published by the German Bioethanol Industry Association (Bundesverband der Deutschen Bioethanolwirtschaft - BDBe).
The German Bioethanol Industry Association (BDBe), which represents the interests of the biofuel sector’s member companies and associations, spanning agricultural production of the raw materials to industrial production and processing of bioethanol and all co-products, also points out that the greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of certified domestic bioethanol further improved – according to the most recent official estimates for the year 2016 – reduced carbon emissions by 75 percent compared to fossil-based petrol.
For the current year, the BDBe expects bioethanol consumption to undergo positive development as the mandatory target of the mineral oil companies to reduce GHG emissions of all fuels on the market, which was increased at the beginning of 2017, is likely to have an impact.
Domestic production declined
The bioethanol plants located in the former East German federal states produced a total of 672 930 tonnes of bioethanol from industrial beets, feed grain, residues and waste in 2017. This is a decline of 8.8 percent compared to the previous year.
About one-third of the plant raw materials are converted to bioethanol, other plant substances are added to protein feed from grains, concentrated feed from industrial beets and other products for the food and animal feed industry such as biogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) and gluten.
A marginal decrease in total ethanol consumption
Bioethanol is most commonly used in Germany as an admixture for Super E5, Super Plus and Super E10 fuels as the petrol additive ETBE (ethyl tert-butyl ether). As in 2016, the German petrol market grew in 2017, generating sales of around 18.3 million tonnes. Bioethanol reached an almost unchanged share of the market of 6.0 percent by volume. Nearly 1.2 million tonnes of bioethanol were used for fuel, a decline of 1.6 percent from the previous year.
At 15.0 million tonnes in 2017, Super E5 achieved a slightly smaller market share of 82.1 percent. In the previous year, the figure was 15.1 million tonnes, which represents a market share of 82.8 percent. Super Plus maintained its market share of the previous year at 4.5 percent or around 830 000 tonnes.
Sales of Super E10 fuel, which contains up to 10 percent bioethanol, rose to 2.4 million tonnes which is equivalent to a market share of 13.4 percent. In the previous year, the market share was 12.6 percent at 2.3 million tonnes.
The mineral oil companies used only 111 440 tonnes of bioethanol in the petrol additive ETBE, 13.5 per cent less than in the previous year. ETBE is produced from bioethanol and fossil isobutene and added to petrol to improve its combustion properties due to its higher octane.
A more positive outlook for 2018
According to preliminary figures from the Federal Office of Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA), the consumption of bioethanol increased by more than 9 percent between January and the end of April 2018 in a year-on-year comparison.
Since January 1, 2015, fuel companies have been required by law to reduce carbon emissions from fuels. In 2015 and 2016 there was a mandatory savings target of 3.5 percent. A mandatory savings target of 4.0 percent was introduced on January 1, 2017 and this level is expected to increase further to 6.0 percent on January 1, 2020.
Since the GHG savings target was introduced, BDBe has advocated for this target to be increased faster and continuously to prevent carbon emissions from all fuels. A higher level of acceptance of Super E10 among consumers would also positively impact the sales of domestic bioethanol. Of more than 30 million currently registered passenger cars with petrol engines, only a few passenger car models are still dependent on Super (E5) or Super Plus fuels.
We assume that the greenhouse gas savings quota increased on 1 January 2017 will have a positive impact on the use of bioethanol as a petrol admixture this year. The improved greenhouse gas balance of domestic bioethanol shows that the biofuels established on the fuel market can make an increasing contribution to climate change mitigation. Policies should encourage this development by increasing the greenhouse gas savings target starting in 2019 and not just in 2020, said Stefan Walter, Managing Director of the BDBe.