Biofuels: Sustainable land use instead of land consumption

Berlin, 13 March 2023 - The discussion about banning internal combustion engines is in full swing at national and European level. Closely related to this is the question of whether  the technological focus should be exclusively on electric drives in order to enable sustainable and largely CO2-neutral individual transport. In addition to eFuels, whose production still needs to be developed for years, sustainable certified biofuels are a measure for decarbonising road transport that has already been introduced in the fuel market and are available in relevant quantities. In 2021 alone, the blending of up to 7 per cent biodiesel and up to 10 per cent bioethanol in Germany could save over 11 million tonnes of CO2eq, as officially confirmed. Critics of this use of biofuels from cultivated biomass, which has been established and certified as sustainable since 2010, oftenly adresses "land consumption" when it comes to the use of rapeseed as a raw material for biodiesel production, for example. The energy supply through biofuels of approx. 34.3 TWh (2021) corresponds to a total energy supply of approx. 8,200 wind power plants, which do not have to be built for this output.

Stephan Arens, Managing Director of the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP), points out in this context that there can be no question of land consumption for biofuel production. "Rapeseed is the most important domestic oil bearing plant and it is never 'consumed' exclusively for the production of biofuels. Instead of land consumption, we should rather talk about sustainable and comprehensive land use, because each of the approximately 1.2 million hectares of rapeseed currently growing on German fields not only provides oil, but to an even greater extent high-quality protein," Arens said. Every litre of rapeseed oil, regardless of its use as cooking oil or energy source, thus also contributes significantly to the nutrition of farm animals, which in turn contribute to human nutrition in the form of meat and dairy products as well as eggs. Stephan Arens explains what additional positive effects are associated with this: "In the discussion about biofuels, it is often ignored that rapeseed grown and processed in this country replaces imported soy meal to a considerable extent. As only seeds may be grown in the EU that have not been genetically modified, this also enables GMO-free milk and meat production."

 ENG_UFOP_Rapeseed uses per hectare_090323.jpg