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Motor vehicles: use of biofuels

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The European Union (EU) creates a Community framework to promote the use of biofuels in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental impact of transport, and to increase security of supply.

ACT

Directive 2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003 on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transport.

SUMMARY

Background

The Directive requires the Member States to introduce legislation and take the necessary measures to ensure that biofuels (liquid or gaseous fuels used for transport and produced from biomass, i.e. biodegradable waste and residue from, for example, agriculture and forestry) account for a minimum proportion of the fuel sold on their territory.

In the context of sustainable development in Europe and the Green Paper “Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply”, the Commission is proposing a genuine action plan aimed at increasing the share of biofuels to more than 20 % of European petrol and diesel consumption by 2020.

According to the forecasts in the Green Paper, the transport sector will grow by approximately 2 % per annum over the coming decade. However, greater use of biofuels for transport is part of the package of measures needed for compliance with the Kyoto Protocol.

The ultimate goal is to reduce dependency on the use of oil-based fuels, which is a significant cause for concern for the European Union (EU) in terms of the environment and security of supply.

Content of the Directive

The Directive sets a minimum percentage of biofuels to replace diesel or petrol for transport purposes in each Member State. It is a question of reducing conventional emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), CO (carbon monoxide), NOx (nitrogen oxides), VOC (volatile organic compounds) and other particles which are toxic for health and the environment.

The different types of biofuels are as follows:

  • bioethanol: produced by the fermentation of plants rich in sugar/starch;
  • biodiesel: a diesel-quality fuel produced from biomass or used frying oils and used as biofuel;
  • ETBE: etherised bioethanol;
  • biogas: a fuel gas produced by the fermentation of organic matter by bacterial populations in the absence of oxygen;
  • biomethanol: methanol produced from biomass;
  • bio-oil: an oil fuel produced by pyrolysis (molecular decomposition of biomass through the application of heat and in the absence of air).

The Member States must ensure that the minimum share of biofuels sold on their markets is 5.75 %. Any Member State setting lower objectives will have to justify this on the basis of objective criteria.

Before 1 July each year, the Member States must address a report to the Commission on:

  • the measures taken to promote the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels;
  • the national resources allotted to the production of biomass for energy purposes other than transport;
  • the total quantities of fuels for transport sold in the course of the year.

The Directive will provide a stimulus to the rural economy through the creation of new sources of income and employment. In many cases in the agri-food and forestry industries, biofuels could turn problematical waste production into a sustainable product.

Directive 2003/30/EC is repealed by Directive 2009/28/EC with effect from 1 January 2012.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2003/30/EC

17.5.2003

31.12.2004

OJ L 123, 17.5.2003

Amending actEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2009/28/EC

25.6.2009

5.12.2010

OJ L 140, 5.6.2009

RELATED ACTS

Communication 2010/C 160/01 from the Commission on voluntary schemes and default values in the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme [Official Journal C 160 of 19.6.2010].

Communication 2010/C 160/02 from the Commission on the practical implementation of the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme and on counting rules for biofuels [Official Journal C160 of 19.6.2010].

Commission communication of 10 January 2007 "Renewable energy road map. Renewable energies in the 21st century: building a more sustainable future" [COM(2006) 848 – not published in the Official Journal].

Report from the Commission of 10 January 2007 – Biofuels Progress Report. Report on the progress made in the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels in the Member States of the European Union [COM(2006) 845 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Commission communication of 8 February 2006 "An EU strategy for biofuels" [COM(2006) 34 final - Official Journal C 67, 18.3.2006].

Last updated: 20.01.2011
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