RED-2 of European Commission should limit fossil, not renewable fuels

Stagnation of share of renewables in transport in post-2020 period

Since early 2000s biofuels in transport have been supported by policy. For two reasons. One is the contribution they make to carbon reduction and the other for their capacity to reducing the fossil oil dependency of the transport sector. Biofuels are blended in transport fuel. First, the Biofuels Directive (2003/30/EC) targeted a 5.75% share by 2010. Then, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED – 2009/28/EC) set a target for 2020: 10% of energy in road transport should be of renewable origin. The RED also introduced sustainability requirements with minimum GHG-savings. In 2015 the RED was amended to incorporate issues on ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change) and capping the contribution of crop-based biofuels to 7%, shifting the focus to advanced biofuels (Directive 2015/1513/EU).

The proposal for RED II extends its focus to advanced biofuels and renewable fuels (renewable electricity directly or converted to liquid or gaseous fuels) and sees them grow to 6,8%. And it will be this 6,8% share that economic operators will be obligated to fulfill.

2017_sGU_REDII biofuels

The development of the share of renewable energy in the transport sector (see Figure) show a surprising picture. In 2030 the share of renewable energy in transport will be expected to be 10,4% as compared to 10% in 2020! This illustrates a complete lack of ambition. It is quite easy to guess that this will not lead to any further carbon savings nor that oil dependency will see any significant reduction.

The European Commission (EC) may argue that in RED-II the share relates to all European transport, while the RED targeted only road transport, but it remains clear that this is not a disruptive change, at best one could call it a low evolutionary step. The conclusion must be that advanced biofuels and renewable fuels replace crop based biofuels, while they should replace fossil oil.

Moreover, the new RED-2 proposal demonstrates the success of the sustainability requirements set for biofuels in the transport sector. In the new proposal this approach is extended to the use of bioenergy for electricity and heat generation and it sets higher thresholds for biofuels (minimum GHG saving increases to 60%). It comes therefore as a surprise that the Commission has chosen to reduce the share of crop based biofuels to max 3.8% by 2030. After all, the sustainability criteria have established a safeguard.

It is difficult to understand why the Commission slows down its pace for the introduction of renewables in transport. The EC White Paper ‘Roadmap to a low carbon economy’ (COM/2011/112) sets challenging targets for all economic sectors to curb carbon emissions in EU in 2050 to max 5-15% of 1990-levels. The Paris Agreement has further underlined the urgency to speed up policy actions to limit climate change to max. 2 C, and preferably stay below 1.5 C. In that light there is a need to be much more ambitious. I would call for a much more disruptive approach. We should no longer focus on increasing the share of renewables in small steps. From now on it is dead end for fossil. By 2030 we will limit the share of fossil-based energy in transport to max 70-75% and will further hugely reduce it in the following period. This will spur innovation, also in transforming the petrochemical based industry clusters to a biobased and circular mode of operation. It will boost efforts in mobility efficiency improvement and pave the way to use low energy-intense mobility options. The advanced biofuels European industry claimed in a 2017 report (Sub Group Advanced Biofuels) that they are able to deliver more advanced biofuels to the European market than the EC set in the targets. Other renewable based options – like Full Electric Vehicles – have demonstrated to be ready to jump into the market.

The Commission wants to achieve leadership in renewable energies. This cannot be reached by limiting renewables. It should limit and phase out fossil sources.
Continue reading RED-2 of European Commission should limit fossil, not renewable fuels

Full Focus on electric vehicles is not enough to bring down carbon emissions in the Netherlands

Although December 2016 shows another record-high for electric vehicles in the Netherlands, also other low-carbon options are urgently needed to further reduce transport emissions.

31,6%, in December 2016, has been the highest share for full electric (FEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) passengers vehicles in the monthly new car registrations in the Netherlands so far. The previous record was set in December 2015 (24,6% share for EVs). December 2016 showed another important milestone: total EVs registrations has topped over the 100 thousand, since their introduction around 2012. Yet, the EV market uptake in 2016 slowed down and was 36% less than in 2015, mainly due to a sobered fiscal support scheme for PHEVs.

Monthly car registrations in the Netherlands (2014-2016)
Monthly car registrations in the Netherlands (2014-2016)

Continue reading Full Focus on electric vehicles is not enough to bring down carbon emissions in the Netherlands

The Paris Climate Agreement

At the COP21 in Paris, 195 countries adopted the Climate Agreement to limit the rise of global temperature  “to well below 2 ºC above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 ºC.

The text of the Agreement can be found here.

Now it is up to all countries to show their leadership. Their Pledges have to transform into actions to bring down greenhouse gas emissions to reach a climate-neutral and sustainable future.

In today’s European energy landscape – only renewables show growth

The strong dominance of fossil resources (share-wise) in energy consumption can make it  easy to overlook the disruptive changes that are taking place in today’s energy landscape: for more than a decade now, total energy consumption is going down in the European Union – at the cost of fossil fuels. Only renewable based energy consumption is growing.2015_sgu_EU Energy consumption BP Stats_2015JUN16.003Energy consumption from renewabe resources (solar, wind, geothermal, bioenery) shows a hyperbolic curve – flat from 1965 to the end of the 1980s, curving in the 1990s and going steep up in share in this century. In 2014 the combined hydro and other renewables energy consumption bypassed nuclear and has climbed to 75% of the coal based consumption level.

The graph below presents which resources fueled growth in a given year compared to the year before. Oil, gas, to a lesser extent coal, and in the 80s nuclear were the resources used for energy consumption growth – up to 2004. From that year on dominancy has been taken over by hydro and other renewables.

The COP21 conference  in Paris is approaching and the EU 2030 energy and climate targets are set – as well as the low carbon economy vision for 2050.

It is clear which ‘colour’ will dominate Europe’s energy landscape in the decades that come.

2015_sgu_EU Energy consumption BP Stats_2015JUN16.004

World energy consumption keeps growing – fossil resources still dominant

Over 2014 the world’s energy consumption has increased as can be conluded on basis of the June-2015 numbers of the BP Energy Statistical Review. The majority of resources to fuel this growth are still fossil based.2015_sgu_BP statistical review 2015_2015JUN15.001The share of renewables is rapidly growing in importance. However, decreasing  world fossil fuel consumption and fueling the growing energy consumption by renewable sources still remains a daunting challenge.2015_sgu_EU Energy consumption BP Stats_2015JUN16.002The growth of fossil fuels and renewables from 2008 (credit crisis) onward, tends towards reaching growth parity. The big question is when will the growth of the world’s renewable energy consumption turn into growth dominancy?

Germany will need a trend reversal to reach the 2020 energy and climate targets

Tuesday, March 31, Mrs. Hendricks, the German Minister of Environment, pointed out that after three years of increasing CO2 emissions in Germany, “the trend finally points into the right direction”. Germany saw 4,3% lower CO2 emissions in 2014. It is a start, but a lot has to be done to further decarbonize Germans energy consumption to reach its 2020 energy targets.

Germany presented an ambitious Action Plan to give yet another fierce impulse to the decarbonization of Germany’s energy consumption in december 2014. 2015_SGU_Insights_Germany energy and carbon intensity performance.007Though the ‘Energiewende’ is progressing (see graph), the ambition is challenging, in two ways. Firstly, by 2020 the total CO2-emissions must be 40% less than they were in 1990. Secondly, the total energy consumption must be 20% lower than it was in 2008. However, as the graph shows the downward trend to decarbonize Germany’s energy consumption has flattened. Even though the use of renewable energy has grown dramatically. Obviously decreasing the use of coal will help. But also an ‘Energiewende 2.0’ in oil consumption is urgently needed.

Continue reading Germany will need a trend reversal to reach the 2020 energy and climate targets

Trend towards Europe-based feedstocks for biofuels

Europe-based feedstocks for biofuels have gained dominancy in the last couple of years official reporting in the Netherlands and Germany shows.  Also the greenhouse gas (GHG) savings established by the use of biofuels in these two countries have increased.

Europe is currenlty debating  the pathways to a decarbonized, resource efficient  and energy independent Europe. The numbers in this graph demonstrate how biofuel GHG-savings and feedstock origin are contributing to these objectives.

2015_SGU_Insight on GHG saving and origin biofuel feedstocks.001

Plotting the 2010 performance of the entire EU* causes some confusion. Both the GHG-saving and feedstock origin 2010 figures for the EU are higher than one would expect from the Dutch and German performances over 2011 till 2013 . Are other countries achieving higher GHG-saving levels and significantly using more European feedstocks? A more detailed analysis of the performances of other member states will be needed to clarify.

*The EU performance are based on the in 2013 by the European Commission (EC) published  Renewable Energy Report. The newest EC Renewable Energy Progress report is expected  to be published soon. It will bring clarity on the 2012 performance  and enable comparison to the performances as reported in the Netherlands and Germany.

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What are your best next steps?

Europe is transforming towards a low-carbon and resource efficient economy. This will impact various economic sectors such as; the energy, transport and mobility, and the agricultural sector.

As a result, many EU Member States are exploring pathways to restructure their energy production and consumption patterns. Several countries are designing processes to reach a sustainable fuel mix.

These developments are guided through European and national regulations. At both European and national level regulations are in place and updated on continuous basis following new insights, often provided for by civil organisations.

For companies many market opportunities will spring from these developments. By viewing compliance as an opportunity, companies start converting ‘conventional’ to ‘green’ offerings. A following step is designing new sustainable products or processes and ultimately find new sustainable business models.

For the various parties in this process, studio Gear Up identifies and creates the best opportunities in sustainable low carbon options.