The promotion of biofuels offers clear benefits both for security of energy supply and for mitigating climate change. In addition, biofuels could contribute to reducing urban pollution and to the development of rural areas.
Biofuels are largely compatible with today's vehicles and can be blended with current fossil fuels. The promotion of biofuels is a political priority as part of the EU energy-climate policy. Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC introduces a binding target of 10% share of renewable energy in transport by 2020 and biofuels also make a substantial contribution to this aim.
In addition, Directive 2009/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil and introducing a mechanism to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the specification of fuel used by inland waterway vessels and repealing Directive 93/12/EEC allows for the blending of ethanol into petrol up to 10 % (v/v) and for a FAME content of 7 % (v/v) in diesel.
The present EU biofuels policy focuses on the development of second generation biofuels, overcoming market barriers, and the improvement of distribution and storage systems. Biofuels should be produced in ways that do not cause significant environmental damage or competition with food production, or compromise bio-diversity.
The development of fuel standards for biofuels is essential for market development. The European Commission is supporting the development of such standards in the CEN (European Committee of Normalization).
Research and Demonstration projects
The EU RTD activities on biofuels under the 6th and 7th Framework programme have mainly been focused on the development of the "second generation biofuels" and the demonstration of the use in vehicles of different first generation biofuels blends with petrol or diesel or pure biofuels in conventional, dedicated or hybrid engines.
- The Bioethanol for Sustainable Transport (BEST) project aims to demonstrate an extensive substitution of petrol and diesel by bioethanol. This is done through a massive, but very strategic introduction of vehicles and distribution-lines in 10 towns and/or regions. More than 10 000 vehicles and more than 140 fuelling stations are expected as a result of the project.
- The Biogas as Vehicle Fuel. Market Expansion to 2020 Air Quality (Biogasmax) project aims to prove the technical reliability, cost-effectiveness, environmental and societal benefits of biogas fuels and to perform large-scale demonstrations and expand biogas fleets.
- The Demonstration of 2nd Generation Vegetable Oil Fuels in Advanced Engines (2ndVegOil) project aims to prepare the grounds for large-scale use of 2nd generation vegetable oils in advanced engines, notably in hybrid engines