Using renewable fuels consistently will have an immediate impact on climate protection in the transport sector. Such fuel can also offer a readily available climate-protection option for agriculture and forestry, according to the German Bioenergy Association (BBE).

At a press event in advance of the 19th International Conference on Renewable Mobility, Fuels of the Future 2022, which takes place online from January 24-28, the role of sustainable biofuels in climate protection was highlighted.

In Germany, for example, sustainable biofuels led to record greenhouse gas (GHG) savings of over 13.2 million tonnes in 2020 - some 4 million more than the previous year.

The decision by the German Bundestag to introduce a GHG-reduction quota - which rewards the use of biofuels - and to raise that quota in recent years, has been attributed to the positive results.

Commenting, chair of the board, German Bioenergy Association (BBE), Artur Auernhammer, explained:

“This success is due to raising the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction quota to 6% for 2020 (from 4% in 2019) and shows that the GHG quota and the ensuing competition for GHG efficiency are having an impact.”

He explained that biofuels outperform the minimum requirements on climate protection stipulated in the current EU Directive, "notching up average GHG savings of 81% for biodiesel, 90.5% for biomethane and 92% for bioethanol compared to fossil fuels".

In Germany, the GHG quota will increase from 6% in 2021 to 7% in 2022, subsequently rising step-by-step to 25% in 2030.

In addition, he explained, 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.

It is expected that the increased GHG-reduction quota will save a total of around 175 million tonnes CO2 in the transport industry by 2030.

Sustainable biofuels will contribute 110 million tonnes of these overall savings.

Measures within transport industry

According to the German Bioenergy Association yhe following are some of the measures required at European level to attain climate-protection targets in the transport sector:

  1. Tax relief for biofuels in agriculture and forestry
    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. Sustainable biofuels offer a readily available climate protection option for agriculture and forestry, according to the BBE. 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;
  2. Increase 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 GHG pollution from fossil fuels in the transport sector;
  3. Expand the liquefied natural gas (LNG) fleet
    This is deemed as 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;
  4. Adapting the targets in the Renewable Energy Directive (EU) 2018/2001
    Given the major climate-protection challenges in the transport industry, the European Commission’s proposal of a 13% GHG 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.