The press conference in the run-up to the 19th International Conference on Renewable Mobility “Fuels of the Future 2022” addressed the contribution that sustainable renewable fuels already make to mitigating climate change and their potential to boost climate protection immediately. In 2020 sustainable biofuels led to record greenhouse gas savings of over 13.2 million tons. That means an additional saving of almost 4 million tons CO2 emissions could be achieved in 2020 compared with the previous year.
“This success is due to raising the greenhouse gas reduction quota (GHG quota) to 6% for 2020 (4% in 2019) and shows that the GHG quota and the ensuing competition for greenhouse gas efficiency are having an impact”, noted Artur Auernhammer, Chairman of the Board, German Bioenergy Association (BBE). Sustainable biofuels play an indispensable part in effective climate protection in the transport sector and will continue to do so in future.
“Biofuels outperform the minimum requirements on climate protection stipulated in the current EU Directive, notching up average greenhouse gas savings of 81% for biodiesel, 90.5% for biomethane and 92% for bioethanol compared to fossil fuels. The GHG quota rewards use of biofuels that ensure the highest possible greenhouse gas savings”, Artur Auernhammer emphasised. In addition, depending on CO2 pricing provisions and the proportion of biofuel added to the blend, they can have a price-dampening effect at filling stations or for commercial vehicle fleets. That is because renewable fuels added to petrol and diesel blends are exempt from CO2 pricing under the national emissions trading scheme for transport that has been in force since early 2021.
The German Bundestag’s decision to continue raising the GHG quota means greater climate protection in the transport sector, while at the same time offering planning security for manufacturers of renewable fuels and feedstock producers. Specifically, the GHG quota will increase from 6% in 2021 to 7% in 2022, subsequently rising step-by-step to 25% in 2030. “We assume that the increased GHG reduction quota will save a total of around 175 million t CO2 in the transport industry by 2030.
Sustainable biofuels will contribute 110 million t CO2 of these overall savings. That makes clear that there is no alternative to commercially available biofuels if climate protection targets are to be achieved, despite the potential of electromobility and fuel cells. It is already apparent that the vast bulk of the vehicle fleet will still be powered by internal combustion engines in 2030, even if the ambitious electromobility targets are met by that deadline. Those vehicles will also need to make a growing contribution to climate protection. As a minimum, it will be appropriate to safeguard the contribution that commercially available biofuels make to climate protection of biofuels, while supplementing this by continuing to develop advanced biofuels and ultimately also synthetic fuels”, Auernhammer explained.
Against this backdrop, the biofuel associations welcome the new German government’s approach of placing climate protection at the heart of all its policies. At the same time, the associations critique the SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen and FDP coalition agreement, noting that it largely ignores the climate protection benefits of sustainable biofuels as the only relevant option to date for climate change mitigation in the world of transport. In order to address the major challenges, especially in the transport sector, an approach that is open to embracing multiple technologies and feedstocks is vital. As it is expected that the vehicle fleet will still include around 30 million vehicles with internal combustion engines in 2030, immediate action on this front is crucial. That includes continuing to work on innovations for combustion engines using sustainably produced and greenhouse-gas-optimized biofuels, development and market launch of further alternative
fuels, and inclusion of sustainable biofuels in fleet limits – in short, an “evolutionary roadmap” that takes all alternative fuels into account. The following measures are required at the national and European level to attain the climate protection targets in the transport sector by 2030:
1. Increasing the Share of Renewables in Petrol and Diesel
Biodiesel, bioethanol, and biomethane are renewable alternatives to fossil fuels available for immediate use. Simply increasing the proportion of sustainable biofuels included in blends is a viable option to ensure rapid reductions in greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuels in the transport sector. This entails, firstly, abandoning the provisions on protecting certain fuel blends that oblige filling stations to offer E5 in addition to Super E10. Once E5 has been withdrawn, E10 could be categorised as a protected grade, while an even higher blending percentage with E20 could also be offered as an option for cars approved to use it. Over 95 percent of all cars registered in Germany and all new cars with petrol engines are approved for Super E10. Super plus (E5) could be maintained as a protected fuel for all other vehicle types. Super E10 must become the standard petrol grade, as it already is in many EU Member States. Secondly, the maximum proportions of sustainable biodiesel and bioethanol in diesel and petrol should be increased. To this end, fuel standardization of E20 must be pursued swiftly at the European level. Blends containing a higher proportion of biodiesel such as B10 must be approved for public sale at filling stations, while use of B30 and higher blending proportions up to pure fuel (B100) should be encouraged in clearly defined freight and passenger transport fleets.
2. Expanding the LNG Fleet and the Requisite Infrastructure
It is crucial to step up the pace in introducing biogas from waste and residues in the transport sector. Additional GHG savings can be achieved through biogenic LNG if appropriate vehicles and refuelling facilities are available. Public and private-sector infrastructure for vehicle refuelling must be promoted.
3. Adapting the Targets in the Recast Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001 – RED II
We commend the provisions in the recast RED II concerning EU-wide conversion of the minimum energy target for renewable energies to a greenhouse gas reduction target based on the German model. Unlike an energy-related target, this will lead to genuine greenhouse gas reductions in the transport sector. Given the major climate protection challenges in the transport industry, the European Commission’s proposal of a 13% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030 is too low and needs to be increased to at least 16%, while target achievement in the Member States must be evaluated by 2026 at the latest. In addition, the quota target should increase annually in regular steps to ensure continuously enhanced climate protection, while also allowing the economy to adjust to the gradual increase.
4. Recast of the EU Energy Taxation Directive
The amendment proposed by the EU Commission to the 2003 Energy Taxation Directive envisages a fundamentally new approach to taxation that focuses on energy content. We oppose proposals to introduce minimum tax rates for sustainable biofuels that will increase over time to the same level as fossil fuel taxation. Ensuring permanent tax equality with what are classed low-CO2 fuels is essential. Biofuels must satisfy comprehensive sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction requirements that are more stringent in the recast RED II, irrespective of the biomass feedstock in question. In this respect, the Commission’s proposal contradicts the proposals laid out for RED III, especially since “ceilings” must be observed at the national level as a further restriction.
5. Tax Relief for Biofuels in Agriculture and Forestry Thanks to Implementation of the New EU Climate, Energy and Environmental State Aid Guidelines
The European Commission’s new Climate, Energy and Environmental State aid Guidelines (CEEAG) were adopted at the end of 2021. From 2022, these will form the basis for authorisation by the European Commission of support measures implemented by Member States relating to climate protection and energy, i.e. including approval of tax relief for sustainable biofuels used in agriculture and forestry. It is therefore crucial for economic operators that the German government continues to grant the existing tax relief for biofuel use in agriculture and forestry on the basis of the new guidelines. There is an urgent need to apply for follow-up arrangements and for these to be approved by the Commission. Sustainable biofuels offer a readily available climate protection option for agriculture and forestry. In addition, farmers who have invested in the relevant technology and established regional value-added cycles also have a legitimate expectation that the tax exemption will be maintained.
The full programme for the digital-format 19th International Conference on Renewable Mobility “Fuels of the Future 2022” from 24th to 28th. registrations are available: www.kraftstoffe-der-zukunft.com