The costs of achieving the proposed 10% biofuels target in Europe will likely outweigh the benefits and may not even reduce greenhouse gas emissions according to an internal working document by the European Commission’s Joint Research Center that was leaked to the European press.
The JRC, which with EUCAR and CONCAWE has performed detailed sets of well-to-wheels analysis of different fuel and powertrain combinations (earlier post), noted in the report that the costs will almost certainly outweigh the benefits, with net “decrease in welfare” of between €33 to €65 billion within an 80% probability range. In addition:
The uncertainty is too great to say whether the EU 10 per cent biofuel target will save greenhouse gas or not.
The paper suggests that the indirect emissions caused by the conversion of land to biofuel production and the displacement of farming could potentially negate the savings from conventional biofuels.
The study further concludes that the decision to specifically target greenhouse gas reductions in the transport sector reduces the benefits which could be achieved in other ways with the same EU resources. In terms of greenhouse gas reduction per hectare of land, “it is substantially more efficient to use the biomass to generate electricity than to produce conventional biofuels.”