Advanced biofuels: Technologies and EU policy

08-06-2017

Road transport remains significantly more dependent on fossil fuels than other sectors. In the early 2000s, biofuels appeared as a way to reduce this dependency and to cut greenhouse gas emissions. However, when greenhouse gas emission reductions through using conventional biofuels were called into question because of the indirect effects involved, advanced biofuels emerged as an alternative. Although the advanced biofuels sector has been facing technological challenges and economic difficulties, global advanced biofuels production has been forecast to double between 2013 and 2020, with the largest (planned and in operation) production capacity located in Europe. In 2016, most advanced biofuels production routes were at prototype or demonstration stage, with two being considered ready for commercialisation. Advanced biofuels may offer a series of opportunities, in particular as regards greenhouse gas emission savings and energy security, but also pose a series of challenges, in particular as regards sustainability. EU policy support for biofuels started in 2003, but has since been shifting away from conventional biofuels. Since 2015, it has explicitly supported advanced biofuels. A legislative proposal on the regulatory framework beyond 2020, put forward by the European Commission in 2016, seeks to strengthen this support. In addition, funding opportunities are being provided through various programmes.

Road transport remains significantly more dependent on fossil fuels than other sectors. In the early 2000s, biofuels appeared as a way to reduce this dependency and to cut greenhouse gas emissions. However, when greenhouse gas emission reductions through using conventional biofuels were called into question because of the indirect effects involved, advanced biofuels emerged as an alternative. Although the advanced biofuels sector has been facing technological challenges and economic difficulties, global advanced biofuels production has been forecast to double between 2013 and 2020, with the largest (planned and in operation) production capacity located in Europe. In 2016, most advanced biofuels production routes were at prototype or demonstration stage, with two being considered ready for commercialisation. Advanced biofuels may offer a series of opportunities, in particular as regards greenhouse gas emission savings and energy security, but also pose a series of challenges, in particular as regards sustainability. EU policy support for biofuels started in 2003, but has since been shifting away from conventional biofuels. Since 2015, it has explicitly supported advanced biofuels. A legislative proposal on the regulatory framework beyond 2020, put forward by the European Commission in 2016, seeks to strengthen this support. In addition, funding opportunities are being provided through various programmes.