Yesterday the European Climate Foundation and its stakeholder partners put forward policy recommendations to the European Commission on how better to support the development of advanced biofuels in the EU. Among other findings, the group has called for prioritizing support for advanced alternative fuels while those biofuels that do not deliver on climate targets should be phased out. The Commission is currently crafting a legislative proposal reviewing its Renewable Energy Directive that is expected December 7 (in addition to other policies to mitigate climate change and increase energy security).
Under the Biofrontiers platform, the stakeholders representing producers, technology developers and NGOs explored the technical, economic and environmental issues associated with developing the next generation of low-carbon fuels for more than a year. The group:
Numerous papers on these topics are publicly available here.
The group acknowledged that even with deep decarbonization in the transport sector, there will be a need for “sustainable liquid fuels:”
“We know that 2050 European transport will be much less dependent on petroleum fuels, due to a spectrum of measures from vehicle efficiency to green driving to electrification. Despite this, we can also be sure that even while overall oil dependency is reduced, a significant fraction of European transport is likely to rely on sustainable liquid fuels. Developing a sustainable low carbon fuels industry is the only way to achieve further decarbonisation in this rump of demand.”
Recommendations included the following:
The group noted two challenges with respect to advanced biofuels: sustainability and investment security. With respect to sustainability, the group said, “There is no single off-the-shelf example that Europe can look to for effective regulatory assurance of sustainability for these advanced alternative fuel technologies. Europe has to develop these tools itself.”
The greatest challenge to investment is offtake risk.
“For the advanced biofuel industry to be successfully commercialised, it will require the introduction of policy that guarantees long-term, secure value to project investors. This policy framework should be focused on fuels with low carbon intensity and should provide clear visibility around its goals in order to foster confidence and investment in the low carbon fuel industry.”
Such policies could include national blending targets, CI reduction targets (that account for indirect land use change) and low carbon fuel use requirements on fuel suppliers.
All this is good news for advanced biofuels players, and maybe a death knell for first-generation biofuels producers. Or maybe not. Is it possible those players can improve their carbon intensities (CI) and stay in the game? That has happened in California, where first-generation ethanol producers have reduced – in some cases substantially – their CIs. I’ll be talking to one of the key members of this project, Dr. Chris Malins of Cerulogy, about this, Biofrontiers and other questions on the future of biofuels in Europe in a forthcoming podcast. Look for it!