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French Prime Minister Seeks to Increase Biofuels Usage; Targeting 10% by 2015

In a speech on 15 May, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced, among other energy initiatives, a push to increase the blending of biofuels in petroleum-based fuels in France to 10% by 2015. The European Union has set an overall goal of increasing the use of biofuels in energy consumption to 5.75% by 2010.

The French government has initiated two invitations to tender since 2005 to support the building of 16 new biofuels plants, representing €2 billion (US$2.6 billion) of investment, according to the Prime Minister.

Finally, we are resolved to go further in the matter of the use of green fuels. I am fixed on a clear objective: by the end of the decade, each French person who wishes it should be able to use a vehicle that can consume high biofuels blends.

That concerns two types of vehicles: gasoline vehicles should be able to consume almost pure ethanol or diesel vehicles should be able to integrate high levels of biodiesel.

From this perspective, each French person must be able to have access to a veritable network of green pumps. I observe that this possibility is already a reality in a number of countries in the world, notably in Brazil and in Sweden.

—Dominique de Villepin

The Prime Minister has requested an action plan from his Ministers to be presented by the summer that will bring together car manufacturers, oil distributors, farmers and consumers. Fleet trials are to begin by the end of the year.

The government will also begin incorporating flex-fuel vehicles and fuels with higher biofuel blends into its fleets.


Rafael Seidl

Note that France is the biggest net recipient of the EUR 400 billion in agricultural subsidies that will be doled out through 2013. It's easy to make yourself look green when someone else is paying for it. Meanwhile, they're looking to sell nuclear power plants to India.

High blends of ethanol and biodiesel make no economic sense just yet, nor will they by 2015. Even the already stated objective of 20% renewable fuels by 2020 is extremely ambitious. By all means, let's minimize the trade distortion in the twilight years of the common agricultural policy by eliminating the production of food surpluses that are depriving African farmers of their livelihoods.

However, biofuels should absolutely not be used as a Trojan horse for extending agricultural subsidies beyond 2013. Instead, fossil fuels should carry a surtax for net GHG emissions and energy security risks. In that context, there would be plenty of private investors willing to fund in next-generation biofuel technology R&D and production, because consumers will be eager to EARN a tax cut by changing their BEHAVIOR.

The EU does need a transition strategy out of crude oil, but how we get there is half the battle.

French translator

Hasn't France been an europian leader in atomic energy consumption all these years? I wonder why should always two extremities live side by side!

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