Comparison of well-to-wheel emissions from biofuels with fossil fuels using marginal aspproach. Ecofys.
Comparison of well-to-wheel emissions from biofuels with fossil fuels using marginal aspproach. Ecofys.

New ILUC study: Ecofys puts biofuels back on track!

An Ecofys study published yesterday – on behalf of the European Oilseed Alliance (EOA), the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) and the European Vegetable Oil and Protein meal Industry (FEDIOL) – gives new life to biofuels and certainly brings new elements to the debate on ILUC, currently at a standstill, reports Géraldine Kutas from Sugarcane.org.

After months of speculation and criticism on the little emission reductions actually provided by biofuels when ILUC is factored in, this study re-energises pro-biofuels arguments. It argues that the European Commission based its conclusions – hence its legislative proposal to amend the RED and FQD – on wrong assumptions and underestimated the benefits of biofuels by as much as 50%. Check this EurActiv articles that provides a useful summary.

In fact, benefits of biofuels should be calculated by comparing the carbon footprint of the fossil fuels they would replace in the market. Ecofys found that in the absence of biofuels, fossil fuels used in the market would not be traditional fuels, as considered by the Commission, but marginal fuels which are mainly unconventional fuels such as oil sands, tar sands and oil shale.

The starting assumption of the Commission would therefore considerably underestimate the GHG reduction impact of biofuels. The fossil comparator used by the commission is 83.8 gCO2eq while the study estimates that the marginal GHG emissions reduced by the use of biofuels would amount at 115 gCO2eq.

Without entering into too many details such as estimated carbon intensity and average blend comparator, the key point of this study is that unconventional fuels have a higher carbon footprint compared to traditional fuels and they cover – and are likely to cover even more in the future – a growing share of the market. Calculation of GHG savings for biofuels should therefore be based on this assumption.

Géraldine Kutas  “Let’s hope that the Commission will take into account these new findings as well as the call by EU leaders to examine instruments for “renewable energy sources in transport” post 2020.”

More on transport and biofuels at Sugarcan.org event “Think Energy. Think Brazil. Perspectives on the 2030 Energy and Climate Package” on 19 November!