The European Parliament (EP) agreed a new rule on 28 April finalising a 7% cap on first-generation biofuels.

The European Parliament (EP) agreed a new rule on 28 April finalising a 7% cap on first-generation biofuels.

Currently, EU member states must ensure that renewable energy accounts for at least 10% of energy used for transport by 2020. The new rule requires that no more than 7% of this will be able to come from first-generation biofuels (from crops grown on agricultural land) although member states can set a lower target. They will have to include the new rule – a revision to the Fuel Quality and Renewable Energy directives – in national legislation by 2017.

Additionally the new rule requires fuel suppliers to report to EU countries and the European Commission (EC) the estimated level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by indirect land-use change (ILUC). The EC must publish data on ILUC-related emissions and report back to the EU on the scope for including ILUC emission figures in existing sustainability criteria.

Once the new directive has come into force, members states will have 18 months to set an advanced biofuel target. Although a guide of 0.5% has been set, a member state can set itself a lower target on the grounds that it is restricted in its ability to meet the target, such as limited production potential, technical or climate constraints, or existing national policies.

ePure, the European ethanol industry association, said that while the deal lacked ambition, it was a much needed first step in re-establishing market stability.

Robert Wright, secretary general of ePURE, commented: “The vote amends the existing EU biofuels legislation and is expected to be ratified by the Council of the EU in June, putting an end to a three-year legislative procedure that has fundamentally undermined investment and stability in the EU biofuels market.

“The absence of binding targets for advanced biofuels and renewable ethanol use in petrol – key measures promoted by the Parliament to differentiate between better biofuels – is a missed opportunity to amend the biofuels legislation in an ambitious and meaningful manner. Once adopted in Council, it is now up to member states to implement the revised directives in a way that does not fragment the internal markets for biofuels.”

The European Biodiesel Board said the vote “puts an end to long and protracted negotiations” but the compromise was “far from perfect”.

“The new text fails to fully protect, with a grandfathering clause, the huge investments undertaken by our industries in the past decade. It also imposes disproprotionate reporting obligations on all operators based on ILUC factors, which are not cohesively supported by the international scientific community.”