FEDIOL, the EU vegetable oil and protein meal industry association, has called into question a recent analysis by green group Transport & Environment (T&E), which referred to data obtained from FEDIOL showing that 45% of all the palm oil used in Europe in 2014 was utilised as biodiesel (see Biofuel News, OFI June 2016).

“While the data shown by T&E were meant to be rough estimates for internal purposes, they were never published nor validated by FEDIOL,” the EU association said.

“It is also worth noting that the basis for such figures is Oil World annual statistics. Oil World provides figures on the different feedstocks used for biodiesel production on a five-year time span: in its latest available data, it found that biodiesel produced from palm oil rose from 1.45M tonnes in 2010 to 3.22M tonnes in 2014, a far lower increase compared to the figures mentioned by T&E in its report.

“Moreover, the actual absolute quantity of palm oil going into biodiesel production is still relatively low if compared to other feedstocks: more than 60% of biofuels used in Europe come from European feedstocks – mainly rapeseed – hence biodiesel production improves energy security by reducing fossil fuel imports.”

FEDIOL said only certified sustainable palm oil could be used to produce biodiesel because the EU’s sustainability criteria prevented feedstocks for biofuels from being grown on deforested land, peat lands, or in areas with a high biodiversity value.

“Therefore, palm oil used for biodiesel [in the EU] cannot be linked to deforestation.”

FEDIOL said that if sustainable vegetable oils, including palm oil, were not allowed for biofuels production after 2020*, this would only lead to more fossil fuels use in transport, since first generation biofuels were the only sustainable mainstream alternative for fossil fuels in transport.

*According to EurActiv, EU laws requiring member states to use at least 10% of renewable energy in transport will be scrapped after 2020.

The European Commission (EC) would table a revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) dropping the 10% target at the end of 2016, the report quoted Marie Donnelly, director for renewables at the EC, as saying.

Therefore, a key question for the future is whether or not the EU will continue pushing biofuels in the form of an ‘incorporation obligation’ requiring minimum amounts of biofuels to be blended in automotive and aviation fuels.