France bans palm oil from biofuels

France has passed a regulation which will ban the use of palm oil in biofuels from 31 December 2019, according to Germany’s Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP).

The French regulation ended the eligibility of biofuels, such as palm oil methyl ester and hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) for public funding and will come into force on 1 January 2020. It also provided that as of 31 December, operators would no longer be allowed to include palm oil-based biofuels in their mass balances, UFOP said on 23 July.

The provision would affect French oil giant Total, which began producing HVO at its 500,000 tonnes/year annual capacity La Méde biorefinery in July. Total has pledged that the maximum amount of palm oil processed at the plant would be 300,000 tonnes/year, and the minimum amount of French rapeseed oil used would be 50,000 tonnes/year.

According to Total, the maximum amount of palm oil processed would be 300,000 tonnes/year and the minimum amount of French rapeseed oil used would be 50,000 tonnes/year.

UFOP said the French government was implementing the authorisation regulation introduced by the EU Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) regulation (2015/1513/EU) and continued by the revised Renewable Energy Directive (REDII), which sets limits on high ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels. These limits will affect the amount of these fuels that member states can count towards their national targets when calculating the overall national share of renewables and the share of renewables in transport. Member states will still be able to use (and import) fuels covered by these limits, but they will not be able to include these volumes when calculating the extent to which they have fulfilled their renewable targets. These limits consist of a freeze at member states’ 2019 levels for the period 2021-2023, which will gradually decrease from the end of 2023 to zero by 2030.

“In this sense, France will fulfil its obligation 10 years earlier,” said UFOP, which urged the German government to follow France’s example and ban palm oil as soon as possible.

“UFOP basically welcomes the constraint that excludes palm oil from producers’ mass balances, because biofuels feedstocks must be delivered physically rather than being documented on paper.”

However, it feared there would be shifts in the biofuels market if Total exported palm oil-based HVO to other member states, toughening supply and price competition.