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EC's RED II proposal could have negative impact on bio-based materials- and chemicals sector

On November 30 last year, the European Commission (EC) published a proposal for the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), providing a potential outline of the Union’s renewable energy framework for the timeframe 2021 to 2030. Known as the “RED II proposal”, it has been widely commented on and discussed by a multitude of stakeholders within the energy and biofuels sector. However, it also could have a profound effect on the bio-based materials and biochemicals sector.

Michael Carus, Managing Director of nova-Institute.

Michael Carus, Managing Director of nova-Institute.

The new proposal sets the overall target of a renewable share in the EU’s energy consumption at 27 percent by 2030 and includes the sectors electricity, heating and cooling as well as transport. Several of the new provisions, such as a cap of fuels produced from food or feed crops to a maximum of 3.8 percent; and the ambitious goals for advanced biofuels has been widely commented on and discussed by a multitude of stakeholders not least within the energy and biofuels sectors.

However, nova-Institute, a private independent research, and consultancy focused on the biobased and carbon dioxide (CO₂) based economy, has examined the proposals from a bio-based materials perspective. In a statement, the Institute notes that while the proposal “opens doors” for CO2-based fuels, the “non-level playing field” for the bio-based material sector continues and threatens access to tall oil, animal fats and glycerol by the chemical industry as well as access to pulpwood by the forest industry.

Bio-based impact

– At nova-Institute, we are always concerned with the question of how the revisions in energy policy will impact the bio-based material sector. We have therefore analysed the new Commission RED II proposal with a view on the bio-based materials, said Michael Carus, Managing Director, nova-Institut GmbH in a statement adding that the most important findings have recently been detailed in a paper.

As Carus points out, the entire proposal can be seen as an attempt to assemble a wide range of support mechanisms for a multitude of energy forms under one legislative roof. The first-ever comprehensive inclusion of carbon dioxide (CO2) based fuels means that the available support will be spread between more forms of energy supply than before, which are less dependent on biomass.

– From a bio-based materials point of view, this gives some hope for improved access to biomass and a fairer competition. We have evaluated the proposal’s coverage of CO2-based fuels, as we are convinced of their huge potential. The latter will have strong impacts on bio-based fuels and energy and, indirectly, also on the material sector, said Carus.

However, he said that there is still “a long way to go” towards a completely level playing field and the optimal use of resources in Europe.

– Especially for feedstocks that are accepted for “advanced biofuels”, the situation has potentially worsened, Carus warned.

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