|The biofuel roundtable.|
The French Government is accelerating its efforts to develop alternative energies in order to reduce national oil consumption and limit France’s energy dependence.
This week, Domenica Bussereau, Minister for Agriculture and Fishing and François Loos, Vice-Minister for Industry in the Ministry of Finance, assembled executives from agriculture, oil and auto manufacturing in a major roundtable to determine what has to be done for France to meet its biofuels targets of 5.75% by 2008, 7% by 2010 and 10% by 2015.
We have entered the post-oil era, and I intend to do whatever is necessary in order to give a real boost to energy-saving measures and to the use of renewable energies.—French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, 1 Sep 05
The roundtable developed a set of 15 action items and commitments to advance the use of biofuels in France, including large increases in the direct use of ethanol in blends and in E85 flex-fuel vehicles, and support for a broader range of approaches to biodiesel production.
Among the key elements of the plan are:
Revise upward the European standards for biofuel-petrofuel blends. France’s target of 5.75% biofuel content by 2008 is not compatible with the current European 5% standard. Modification of the European specifications thus is essential to maintain coherence between the EU and France.
Minister Loos will accordingly seek a revision of the standards at the European level, while France adopts in parallel aa national increase in biodiesel blends from 5% to 10%. The “pre-standardization” will be carried out following the final validating test led by the French Petroleum Institute (IFP) and the automobile manufacturers and equipment suppliers in 2006.
Ensure fuel quality. Minister Loos also announced that the Ministry will ensure the quality of the blends at the pump beginning in 2006.
Support the direct blending of ethanol in gasoline. In France, ethanol is usually used to produce a type of ether known as ETBE (ethyl tertiary butyl ether) which is then mixed into fuel. The government wants the industry to begin using direct ethanol blends starting in 2006.
A pilot project for direct ethanol blending in Rouen that will incorporate 5% ethanol into 300,000 tons of gasoline beginning in February 2006. (SIPLEC, a subsidiary of retail giant Leclerc, announced on Monday that it has begun direct blending of ethanol into its gasoline.)
Multi-year commercial partnership between the ethanol and oil industry. The Ministers insisted that the contracts be concluded quickly to ensure a stable ethanol market.
The need to support the commercial development of new biofuel variants for diesel blending, including optimized ethanol-diesel blends, biodiesel from animal fats, and Fischer-Tropsch biodiesel (Biomass-to-Liquids synthesis). To support that development, the ministry is opening up the 1.3-million tonne biodiesel tender to those biofuels as well. (Tender to be published shortly, with results announced in January.)
Trial support for E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) flex-fuel vehicles.
Investing to increase biodiesel crop and production capacity.
Limiting the use of pure vegetable oil as a fuel to the agricultural sector.
Among the companies and organizations participating in the roundtable were:
Oil industry: AGIP; Association des Indépendants du Pétrole (AIP); BP; Dyneff; Esso; ETBE Nord et Ouest; Fédération Française des Pétroliers Indépendants (FFPI); Institut Française du Pétrole (IFP); Lyondell; Siplec; Shell; Total; Union Française des Industries Pétrolièrs (UFIP); Union des Importatuers Indèpendants Pétroliers (UIP), Pètrovex (groupe Auchan), Carfuel (groupe Carrefour),Stè Pètroles et Dèrivès
Auto industry: Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles (CCFA); Fédération des Industries des Equipements pour Véhicules (FIEV); FMC–Ford France; PSA Peugeot Citroën; Renault
Agriculture: Association pour le Développement des Carburants Agricoles (ADECA); Association Générale des Producteurs de Blé et Autres Céréales (AGPB); Association Générale des Producteurs de Maïs (AGPM); Confédération Générale des Planteurs de Betteraves (CGB); Diester Industrie; Esterifrance; Fédération Française des Producteurs d'Oléagineux et de Protéagineux (FOP); Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles (FNSEA); Ineos Enterprises; Jeunes Agriculteurs (JA); Saria Industrie; Syndicat Général des Constructeurs de Machines Agricoles (SYGMA); Syndicat de l’Industrie Française des Coproduits Animaux (SIFCO); Syndicat National des Producteurs d’Alcool Agricole (SNPAA)