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Germany upped bioethanol production 7.1 % in 2020 despite COVID-19

The German Bioethanol Industry Association (BDBe) has published the 2020 market data for the production and consumption of certified sustainable bioethanol. German bioethanol production, standardized for use as fuel, amounted to around 700 000 tonnes in 2020, an increase of 7.1 percent compared with the previous year. In 2020, the year of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, German producers also supplied the basic material for disinfectants.

The German Bioethanol Industry Association (BDBe) has published the 2020 market data for the production and consumption of certified sustainable bioethanol. While the overall volume of bioethanol used contracted on account of COVID-19, the share of bioethanol in the German fuel market increased (graphic courtesy BDBe).

In a fuel market that declined sharply in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in which sales of petrol (gasoline) were almost 10 percent lower than in the previous year at 16.2 million tonnes (2019: 18.0 million tonnes), bioethanol consumption also declined.

The amount of ethanol and ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE) used as an admixture in Super E10, Super Plus and Super E5 petrol fell by 4 percent to just under 1.10 million tonnes (2019: 1.14 million tonnes).

More than 125 000 tonnes of bioethanol were used for ETBE production, which is equivalent to 42.8 percent more than in 2019 (nearly 88 000 tonnes).

By contrast, bioethanol as an admixture in petrol fell by just under 8 percent to 971 000 tonnes (2019: 1.1 million tonnes). However, the overall share of bioethanol on the petrol market rose to 6.4 percent by volume (2019: 6.0 percent by volume).

The market share of Super E10 in petrol sales also increased last year to 14.0 percent (2019: 13.7 percent). The absolute sales volume, in this case, was 2.27 million tonnes. This figure was 2.46 million tonnes the previous year.

At 13.1 million tonnes in 2020, Super E5 achieved a market share of 80.6 percent. In the previous year, the 14.7 million tonnes of Super E5 sold represented a market share of 81.7 percent. Super Plus achieved a slightly higher market share of 5.4 percent (2019: 4.6 percent).

While the overall petrol (gasoline) market in Germany contracted 2020 on account of COVID-19, the total share of bioethanol increased (graphic courtesy BDBe).

Increase in domestic production

Domestic production of bioethanol rose by 7.1 percent last year to around 700 000 tonnes (2019: 652,000 tonnes). Bioethanol production from sugar beet pulp increased significantly by almost 19 percent compared to the previous year, while production of grain-based bioethanol rose by 5 percent.

Stefan Walter, Managing Director of the BDBe, took a positive overall view of the bioethanol industry for the past year.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions on mobility, bioethanol producers were able to increase their production, Stefan Walter said.

The greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction quota for the transport sector, which was raised from 4 percent to 6 percent at the beginning of the year, and the additional sales opportunities for bioethanol offered by the production of hand and surface disinfectants contributed to the positive development of the domestic bioethanol industry.

According to Walter, an ambitious increase in the GHG reduction quota to 22 percent by 2030, which is currently under discussion in the German Bundestag, could strengthen the effect on climate change mitigation in the long term.

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