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EC Launches Biofuels Public Consultation

The European Commission has launched a public consultation concerning the biofuel issues in the new legislation regarding the promotion of renewable energy, addressing concerns such as how to achieve a 10% biofuel share while ensuring environmental sustainability.

The consultation follows the recently adopted Energy Policy for Europe, which includes a proposal for a binding 20% target for the overall share of renewable energy by 2020 and a binding 10% target for the share of biofuels in transport. The consultation is aimed at helping the Commission draft proposals to incorporate these targets into legislation.

Biofuels play a key role in improving security of supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transport, while offering new sources of income to people dependent on agriculture, both in the EU and in developing countries. However, these advantages should not be offset by environmental damage through inappropriate land use or outdated production processes. That is why I am glad to announce this consultation exercise, which will help us design a simple and practical sustainability scheme.

—Commissioner Piebalgs

The Commission is looking for the views of public authorities, businesses, non-governmental organizations and other interested parties on four questions:

  • How should a biofuel sustainability system be designed? One possible scheme proposed in the Consultation Paper is the listing of “sustainability criteria” in the legislation. Should a biofuel fail to meet one of the criteria, its use would not count toward national obligations.

    Three suggested criteria are:

    • Achieving a minimum level of greenhouse gas savings;
    • Avoiding major reduction in carbon stocks through land use change;
    • Avoiding major biodiversity loss from land use change.
  • How should overall effects on land use be monitored?

  • How should the use of second-generation biofuels be encouraged?

  • What further action is needed to make it possible to achieve a 10% biofuel share?

The consultation will remain open until 4 June 2007 and can be accessed at




I think there may be an unwritten factor which is biofuels and the tax base. If 2nd generation fuels like Sundiesel need a break of 47 eurocents per litre that is a big loss of revenue to the government. A way has to be found to promote alternatives and still fund Social Security etc.

Rafael Seid

The most important result of this consultation should be a clear, quantified consensus on what biofuels are supposed to achieve:

- structural reduction in dependence on fossil fuel sources in politically unstable/adversarial countries
- reduced CO2 emissions (well-to-wheels approach)
- reduction of food production subsidies/protectionist tariffs for EU farmers via new NFA market opportunity
- reduction of aid to third world via reduced dumping of excess foodstuffs
- new IP development opportunities for EU life sciences/process engineering companies
- other

Only after there is agreement on the objectives and the trade-offs between can the EU formulate a framework to help member states make progress toward these goals by moving the goalposts (tax & accounting rules, subsidies etc.)

The focus should be on creating economic externalities that promote private investment to the extent desired, rather than lavishing public money on yet another industry that could otherwise not survive.


There will continue to be controversy surrounding the efficacy, energy content, carbon impact, and environmental impact of biofuels because there are so many powerful entrenched interests who are promoting it. Motherhood and apple pie and whatever is the European equivalent blinds us from objectively considering this fuel, especially ethanol in the United States.

Frankly, I think a lot of the debate would attenuate if subsidies were eliminated. Due to biofuels' connection with agriculture, this is probably impossible in the United States. I assume Europe has similar issues.

The other failure is the refusal or inability to look at the whole fuels issue holistically. This would require an evaluation of the viability and energy impact of the entire industrialized agricultural system. How much net energy and fuel can we reasonably obtain from the agricultural system versus how much fuel and energy could we save if it were revamped into a more localized, integrated, grass based system. The system itself is set up to provide massive energy inputs with little regard for the long term health and fertility of the soil and associated wetlands, streams, and rivers.


Imagine that Henry Ford and the boys had told Standard Oil to pound sand and they used alcohol fuels instead. Would the auto industry have grown as fast? Would we be facing materials shortages to make the fuel? I say probably yes to both questions.

Cheryl Ho

There are developments inDME in China today!!

We see great potential for DME as a clean alternative fuel . The present diesel oil is a major source of air pollution from diesel engine of trucks and busses in large city like Tokyo. The potential market of diesel oil substitute is larger than LPG. DME is one of ideal fuel for diesel engine. DME vehicles were demonstratively manufactured in Japan, China and Korea and their driving test already started. Practical durability fleet test of a DME truck is under going in Japan.

We are pleased to organise a conference on China taking the lead in the DME market in production from coal and Japan and Korea activities.

If you would like to know more on COAL to Syngas to DME developments, join us at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:

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