European Commission wants waste biofuels to contribute more to 10 per cent renewable energy target


Biofuels generated from waste have received a boost after the European Commission said that second generation biofuels from materials such as waste and straw will have to contribute half of the 10 per cent renewable energy target.

The Renewable Energy Directive contains a provision that 10 per cent of transport fuels must come from biofuels by 2020. However, the Commission has now announced that the use of food-based biofuels will be limited to 5 per cent with the remainder coming from second generation biofuels.


These second generation biofuels contribute much less in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and do not directly interfere with global food production.

Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger said: “This proposal will give new incentives for best-performing biofuels. In the future, biofuels will be saving more substantial greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our fuel import bill.”

Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard added: “For biofuels to help us combat climate change, we must use truly sustainable biofuels. We must invest in biofuels that achieve real emission cuts and do not compete with food. We are of course not closing down first generation biofuels, but we are sending a clear signal that future increases in biofuels must come from advanced biofuels. Everything else will be unsustainable.”

The Commission is therefore proposing to amend the current legislation on biofuels through the Renewable Energy and the Fuel Quality Directives and in particular:

  • To increase the minimum greenhouse gas saving threshold for new installations to 60 per cent in order to improve the efficiency of biofuel production processes as well as discouraging further investments in installations with low greenhouse gas performance
  • To include indirect land use change factors in the reporting of fuel suppliers and Member States of greenhouse gas savings of biofuels and bioliquids
  • To limit the amount of food crop-based biofuels and bioliquids that can be counted towards the EU’s 10 per cent target for renewable energy in the transport sector by 2020, to the current consumption level, 5 per cent up to 2020, while keeping the overall renewable energy and carbon intensity reduction targets
  • To provide market incentives for biofuels with no or low indirect land use change emissions, and in particular the second or third generation biofuels produced from feedstock that do not create an additional demand for land, including algae, straw, and various types of waste, as they will contribute more towards the 10 per cent renewable energy in transport target of the Renewable Energy Directive.