Advanced biofuels are a long time coming

Berlin, 13th March 2015. The development of innovations and the target dates set by politicians for the introduction of so-called advanced biofuels onto the market do not match up. That was the conclusion reached by the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP: Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen) at the end of the expert conference "New Biofuels 2015" hosted by the Agency for Renewable Resources (FNR: Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe) last week in Berlin.

At the conference, research findings were presented from the project promotion programme of the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL: Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft), supplemented by presentations from national and international experts on the development of conversion procedures for manufacturing advanced biofuels. With the assertion that combustion in the engine remains the determining factor, Clemens Neumann, Head of the Department “Bio-based Economy, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry” of the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL), at the same time emphasised the importance of currently available biofuels and prospective advanced biofuels as a contribution to decarbonisation of the transport sector based on a long-term funding policy.

UFOP notes that, after an increasingly media-led discussion over recent weeks, the debate over the organisation of the funding policy framework for sustainably produced conventional and advanced biofuels up to and after 2020 should now once again be conducted with a pragmatic focus. This conference has made an important contribution to this.

Sustainable conventional biofuels that are tested for their greenhouse gas efficiency are the foundation for a long-term decarbonisation strategy based on a wide spectrum of raw materials. Calling conventional biofuels into question after 2020 would mean that the decarbonisation achieved in the transport

sector through biofuels would have to be compensated for using other regulatory measures. UFOP points out that the technical optimisation of engine fuel consumption efficiency would meanwhile reach its physical limits, particularly considering the fact that the expense for exhaust gas aftertreatment will continue to increase.

A biofuel strategy increasingly based on waste and recyclable materials can only make a limited contribution because these raw material sources would only be available in limited quantities both nationally and internationally. In addition, UFOP emphasises that the studies presented during the conference confirmed that the conversion of recyclable materials from agriculture and forestry into biofuels does not necessarily lead to improved greenhouse gas balances compared with conventional biofuels certified as sustainable.