EU will need imports to hit biofuel targets

The EU Commission is telling consumers and companies which technology they should use, in this case how much ethanol should be blended into fuel. This is a bad idea, it will prevent innovation in alternatives to ethanol. It is, of course, also a gift to the farming lobby and investors in biofuels.

It may very well have the effect that more rainforest will be cleared in Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia. From Financial Times,

Europe will need to import thousands of tonnes of bio-fuels to hit stringent new targets proposed by Brussels yesterday.

Oil companies said a law requiring all petrol to be blended with 10 per cent ethanol by 2020 would call for supply from countries such as Brazil that could produce vast quantities at cheap prices.

“Europe cannot produce enough,” said Peter Tjan, of the European Petroleum Industry Association. “We will swap oil from Saudi Arabia for biofuels from Brazil and Malaysia. Does that help energy security?”

Under the plans, filling stations in the European Union would have to offer two blends of petrol from 2009: E5, with 5 per cent ethanol, and E10, with 10 per cent. By 2020, only E10 would be permitted. Restrictions on ozone emissions would be loosened to allow the blending…

Bioethanol is usually made from wheat or sugar, but the energy required to grow and distil the grains reduces the benefit of using it as a fuel – a litre cuts emissions by less than half on average. Deforestation to clear farmland could contribute more to climate change than the resulting fuels save in emissions.


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