The EU’s biofuel reform plan could jeopardize waste-based fuels

According to EURACTIV, the European Commission’s plan to stop sophisticated biofuels from getting double-counted towards the road transport energy objectives will reduce the usage of the waste-based fuels in favour of cheaper crop-based biofuels.

Advanced biofuels derived from waste sources like leftover animal fats and cooking oil are currently credited twice toward road transport targets under existing legislation. However, under a recently disclosed plan by the European Commission, which was introduced in July as a portion of its ‘Fit for 55′ package of climate rules, this would come to an end.

As per the European Waste-based and Advanced Biofuels Association (EWABA), scrapping the use of so-called “multipliers” – an accounting method that incentivizes investment in new and much more costly green technology by exaggerating its commitment to goals – will see waste biofuels “pushed out of the industry by lower-priced, less sustainable options and billions of euros in investments annihilated”.

“One of the big success tales of [EU Renewable Energy Directive] has been the multiplier for residues and wastes. While double-counting may not be a popular strategy in the crop-based biofuel market, it has been proven to be incredibly effective,” stated Leonidas Kanonis, EWABA’s director of communications and analysis.

“As we all redouble our efforts to decarbonize transportation as rapidly as feasible and as much as possible, optimizing the usage of genuine wastes is important to combating climate change. He told EURACTIV that double-counting has shown to be a beneficial technique that should not be abandoned without careful assessment of the repercussions. The EU multiplier plan, according to Kanonis, has accelerated the acceptance of waste-centred biofuels in nations that might otherwise be looking for alternatives.

Because converting waste to fuel necessitates more technologically advanced – and consequently more expensive – production plants than crop-based biofuels, the multiplication benefit made waste-based fuels more appealing to potential investors, he says. However, under the amended renewable energy directive proposed in July, multipliers for road transport are no longer used. Instead, the European Commission intends to give advanced biofuels used in aviation and shipping a 1.2x boost.

According to the Commission, road transport can be decarbonized using electric and hydrogen vehicles, which are already on EU roads, although analogous technology for planes and ships is not yet mature. Kadri Simson, EU Energy Commissioner stated the Commission had “simplified” the approach to multipliers during the introduction of the amended renewable energy legislation. “We are retaining multipliers where they benefit the hardest-to-abate sectors the most – moving them into maritime and aviation, for example – to ensure that decarbonization activities are prioritized in those sectors,” she said.

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