4 May 2001
Germans see biodiesel boom

By Andrew Swallow

BIODIESEL demand and production are booming in Germany, says an oilseeds expert.

“At the moment we cannot produce enough to meet demand,” says Syngentas head of oilseeds, Gerhard Wulff.

That is despite 300,000t of production from last years crops, mostly grown on set-aside, and a forecast 420,000t next year.

Some 600 filling stations stock the environmentally friendly fuel, including many owned by large agricultural co-operatives, and the Q8 chain.

Thanks to zero duty on biodiesel and recent DERV price increases, it trades at a 10-15% discount. As a result, it is often sold out, adds Mr Wulff.

Production capacity is set to rise to 800,000t in 2002 and predictions of 1m-plus tonnes are realistic — provided the zero duty rate continues, he says.

With the Green Party providing the agriculture and environment ministers in Germanys coalition government, that is likely in the short term, he believes.

At present the same varieties are grown for food and biodiesel, but Mr Wulff says there is scope to increase efficiency with specific varieties bred for fuel.

Biodiesel is only one of a number of renewable energy sources being developed in Germany.

But, unlike the UK, willow is not one of them, says Mr Wulff. “It is too moist. You have to burn too much water.”

Last month in Britain, Labour MPs voted down an amendment to the Finance Bill calling for a cut in duty on biodiesel.

The amendment had called for duty on oilseed rape-based biodiesel to be cut by 33ppl, instead of the 20ppl proposed in the Budget.

But the biofuel lobby received better news afterwards when Department of the Environment officials called for a meeting to discuss “misunderstandings”.


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