DBFZ: Check calculation method and standard values of the greenhouse gas balancing for biofuels from residual materials

Berlin, 14 January 2014. The Deutsche Biomasseforschungszentrum (DBFZ) in Leipzig comes to the conclusion in its report "Determinants for the re-evaluation of residual and waste materials on the GHG balance of first generation biofuels" that a re-evaluation and correction is called for in regard to the methodology and values specified in the biofuel directives for calculation of the GHG balance for biofuels from residual and waste materials.

In October 2012, the European Commission presented its proposal for amendment of the Renewable Energies Directive (2009/28/EC) and the Fuel Quality Directive (98/70/EC). The proposal envisages, amongst other things, a quadruple crediting of the biofuel volumes produced from residual and waste materials to the EU target specification. This states that, from 2020, the proportion of renewable energies in the total fuel consumption is to be at least 10 percent, measured in terms of energy content. The quadruple crediting is intended to give impetus to the use of residual materials (e.g. straw) from agriculture for biofuel production. The proposal by the EU Commission was met with critical appraisal, as considerable incentive effects for the "production" of straw and residual materials are apparent. It was also criticized that residual materials are excluded by the specifications for calculation of the greenhouse gas values from the so-called "allocation" in the greenhouse gas calculation. This means that the expenditures for biomass production (in this case straw) are not considered in the GHG balance. This situation is discussed critically in the summary report of the DBFZ. Finally, it is recommended, particularly when using straw as a raw material for biofuel production, that the methodology and standard values specified in the directives undergo a re-evaluation and correction.

The study "Influence of the re-evaluation of residual and waste materials on the GHG balance of first generation biofuels" is available as a download here.