Future of sustainable biofuels in EU transport

Friday, May 24th, 2024

The European Union has long been committed to the transition to sustainable energy sources in all sectors. In the transport sector, biofuels are seen as a viable alternative to fossil fuels, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy security. However, the path towards sustainable biofuels in transport presents both opportunities and challenges, as detailed in Special Report 29/2023titled “The EU’s support for sustainable biofuels in transport – An unclear route ahead“.

Key findings from the report

The report provides a critical analysis of EU policies to promote biofuels in the transport sector. One of the key findings is the lack of a long-term strategic perspective in EU biofuels policy. This lack of vision complicates investment decisions and slows down the development of the sector. The report also highlights the slow deployment of biofuels based on waste and residues, despite significant EU investment in research and development.

Furthermore, sustainability concerns remain significant. While biofuels promise to reduce carbon emissions, the actual savings are often overestimated. This discrepancy raises questions about the true environmental benefits of current biofuel technologies.

Biomass availability and economics challenges

The report notes that biomass availability is a limiting factor in scaling up biofuels. With competing demands from other industries such as food, pharmaceuticals and bioplastics, securing sufficient biomass for biofuel production is an increasing challenge. Economically, biofuels still struggle to compete with fossil fuels, so continued policy support is needed to make production viable.

Recommendations for enhancing EU biofuel policies

Special Report 29/2023 makes a number of recommendations for improving EU biofuels policy:

  • Policy stability: Establishing a long-term strategy for biofuels is essential to give confidence to investors and to steer the industry towards making a substantial contribution to the EU’s energy and climate objectives.
  • Advanced biofuels: Improving guidance on the categorisation of advanced biofuels and assessing the impact of feedstock capping could help navigate the complex regulatory landscape.
  • Data coherence: Improving the relevance, coherence, and transparency of data on biofuel production and deployment help monitor progress and adjust policy accordingly.

The path to sustainable biofuels in EU transport is complex. However, significant progress can be made through informed policy decisions, targeted research and collaborative efforts.

For further details on the Special Report 29/2023 click here

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