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Agriculture Ethanol Europe

Pannonia takes a swing at European transport carbon cutting plan

One of Europe’s top bioethanol producers is readying to fight the commission’s proposed policy to exlusively use “advanced” biofuel technologies to cut transport carbon emissions post-2020, which it says will hammer investment while destroying thousands of rural jobs.

The European Commission’s July Low-Emission Mobility Strategy clearly outlined the bloc’s desire to remove any policy supports for crop-based biofuels once the current mandated requirements elapse under the Renewable Energy Directive.

After forcing member states to achieve an up to 8.5% volumetric blend by 2020 including up to 7% sourced from oilseeds and starches, the EU expects member states to subsequently determine their own paths to steep 2030 carbon emissions reduction targets.

Under the commission’s proposal, member states will be expected to use “advanced” technologies, invariably heavily dependent on waste feedstocks, to replace the dominant contribution of crop-based bioethanol and biodiesel in existing national blends. Waste-based biofuels already cost significantly more than conventional biofuels.

Markets such as the UK which have implemented so called “double counting” regimes to encourage the consumption of wastes over crop-based biofuels already depend heavily on imported feedstock, Further price hikes in waste feedstocks are likely as carbon-saving fuel mandates gain ground around the world, reducing surpluses which are currently exported to the EU.

The EU’s focus on substituting biofuels with other biofuels loses sight of the need to substitute emissions-spewing fossil fuels, said Mark Turley, CEO of Ethanol Europe, which owns the Pannonia ethanol plant in Hungary.

“Low levels of confidence in policy stability have so far caused advanced biofuel investors to flee Europe,” Turley said.

“We plan to fight the European Commission every step of the way and to stop their plan to abolish our industry,” Turley said. “We have also been encouraged by support from the Hungarian government and MEPs in Brussels,” he said.

The US biofuels mandate meanwhile is continuing to grow. The US mandate stipulates targets requiring the development of cellulosic ethanol technology alongside existing first generation ethanol and biodiesel supplies, avoiding the likely renewable supply crunch which the European Commission’s policy threatens in its current incarnation.

MS – 21/09/2016

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