Sustainability criteria for biofuels specified | EU Commission Fact Sheet


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What has the Commission adopted today?

As foreseen by the recast Renewable Energy Directive adopted by the European Parliament and Council, which has already entered into force, the Commission has adopted today a delegated act setting out the criteria for determining high ILUC-risk feedstock for biofuels (biofuels for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high-carbon stock is observed) and the criteria for certifying low indirect land-use change (ILUC)–risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels. An Annex to the act demonstrating the expansion of the production area of different kinds of crops has also been adopted.

What are biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels?

Biofuels are liquid fuels made from biomass and consumed in transport. The most important biofuels today are bioethanol (made from sugar and cereal crops) used to replace petrol, and biodiesel (made mainly from vegetable oils) used to replace diesel.

Bioliquids are liquid fuels made from biomass and used to produce electricity, heating or cooling.

Biomass fuels are solid or gaseous fuels made from biomass.

Therefore, all these fuels are made from biomass. They have different names depending on their physical nature (solid, gaseous or liquid) and their use (in transport or to produce electricity, heating or cooling).

What is indirect land use change (ILUC)?

ILUC can occur when pasture or agricultural land previously destined for food and feed markets is diverted to biofuel production. In this case, food and feed demand still needs to be satisfied, which may lead to the extension of agriculture land into areas with high carbon stock such as forests, wetlands and peatlands. This implies land use change (by changing such areas into agricultural land) and may cause the release of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 stored in trees and soil) that negates emission savings from the use of biofuels instead of fossil fuels.

How is ILUC addressed in the recast Renewable Energy Directive?

Two different measures are included in the Directive to address ILUC.

Firstly, the Directive sets national limits for the total contribution towards the renewable energy targets of biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels produced from food or feed crops, since these fuels present a risk of causing ILUC. This limit is expressed as 1 percentage point higher than the 2020 national share of these fuels in final consumption of energy in rail and road transport in each Member State (with a maximum of 7%).

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