Major boost for biofuels sector

More biofuels will be used in road transport in future, under new EU Commission proposals to increase the minimum inclusion rates and make them compulsory.

The plans were announced earlier this week as part of the commission’s new Energy Policy for Europe.

Currently the EU only sets targets for biofuel inclusion rates in road diesel and petrol.

The first target was 2% by 2005, though figures released this week show that only two member states – Germany and Sweden – have met this.

The next voluntary target is 10% inclusion by 2010, though again the vast majority of member states will miss this.

But under the new energy plan, the commission wants to set a binding minimum level for biofuels of 10% in vehicle fuel by 2020.

Under the proposal, which could be agreed by ministers as early as March, each member state will have to set out a national action plan to show how it will meet the new target.

EU agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said the policy was “good news for agriculture”. “This is a strong signal to send to European agriculture and industry, showing a true commitment to creating a larger market for bioenergy.”

Biofuels are seen as beneficial in that they are clean and renewable, will create up to 300,000 new jobs throughout Europe and open new markets for farmers.

Production is already encouraged through the use of the €45/ha energy crop premium, available on up to 2m ha throughout the EU.

National top-ups are also available in some member states.