UK proposes double counting biofuel toward 2020 green energy target

Britain has proposed a way to lower the European Union’s 2020 target for renewable energy by counting the contribution from biofuels twice, avoiding the need for billions of euros in investment, a document shows, reports Reuters.

Policy on transport fuel made from crops and other plant matter has stirred heated debate because of concern some biofuels add to greenhouse emissions and drive up food prices. Diplomats said the British biofuel idea was attracting support from several member states, although they did not specify which. Dominant EU power Germany opposes it, they said.

In a document seen by Reuters, Britain sets out the financial benefits of an accounting method that would include biofuels towards an overall renewable energy target as well as a sub-target for reducing the emissions of transport fuel.

The cost of green energy has become a major political debate in Britain and other EU states keen to curb fuel prices. Britain, which is looking to nuclear energy for carbon-free power, is one of the nations that falls short of its share of the EU renewable goal. Member states that fail to meet their targets could eventually face stiff financial penalties.

“Sustainability concerns about biofuels can’t be misused by one member state to water down the EU’s common 20 percent target,” Isabel Cancela de Abreu, a policy adviser for the European Renewable Energy Council, said.

The latest available official EU data showed Britain had achieved a 3.8 percent green energy share in 2011, compared with its national goal of 15 percent by 2020.