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The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has raised concerns with the European Union (EU)’s biofuel policy, World Bio Market Insights reported.

In its report, the ECA identified its three key issues with the policy: environmental impact; economic viability and competition; and uncertainty.

While promoted as sustainable alternatives, the environmental benefits of biofuels were often over-estimated as production could involve deforestation or land competition with food crops, the ECA report said.

The report also said that biofuels remained significantly more expensive than fossil fuels, which held back their widespread adoption.

In addition, reliance on imports such as used cooking oil (UCO) involving long-distance transportation raised questions about the policy’s effectiveness in achieving energy independence.

“The European Commission has worked on the assumption that biofuels will help to raise energy independence, but in actuality, dependence on other countries has increased – for instance as evidenced by the importing of used cooking oil from China and Malaysia,” Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Estonia’s representative at the ECA, was quoted as saying.

Biofuels also competed for resources with various sectors, including food, cosmetics and bioplastics, while frequent policy changes and a lack of a long-term plan created investor uncertainty, further slowing the development and adoption of advanced biofuels, the 8 February report said.

Despite mandatory targets for renewable energy use in transport, most EU countries had failed to achieve the 10% target for 2020 – mainly due to reliance on biofuels – and this raised questions about the overall effectiveness and sustainability of the current policy, World Bio Markets Insights wrote.