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Nearly one-fifth of all European biofuels is now made from used cooking oil (UCO), which has also witnessed the most absolute growth compared with any other biomass-based diesel feedstock in Europe and North America in the last few years, the ACI Oleofuels 2022 conference heard last week.

Globally, 6.6M tonnes of UCO biofuels were consumed last year, representing 5% of the total biofuels market, Cornelius Claeys, manager (biofuels) at Stratas Advisors, said at the 18-19 May event in Aix-en-Provence, France.

“Alternative waste feedstocks and low carbon production pathways need to be scaled up,” he added.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine, regulatory changes and lack of feedstocks were all impacting the biofuels industry, conference chairman Angel Alvarez Alberdi, secretary general of European Waste-based & Advanced Biofuels Association (EWABA), said.

“The Ukraine crisis is having an impact on food and fuel prices and several countries are lowering, freezing or waiving biofuel blending mandates due to the fear of elevated food prices,” Alberdi said.

In the medium to long-term, Claeys said he expected the conflict to accelerate the energy transition in the European Union (EU).

A survey conducted among biofuels companies by Novozymes found that feedstock flexibility would be the dominant trend in the sector over the next 20 years, Thomas Balle, industry technology specialist at Novozymes, said.

On the regulatory side, European legislation will drive demand of waste-based and advanced biodiesel, according to Balle.

Florian Gollin, a member of EcoMotion’s management team, said in the medium-term there was a need to create opportunities through regulatory changes, rather than limitations.

According to Neste’s head of market intelligence strategy Anselm Eisentraut, regulation continued to strengthen and would drive demand for renewable fuels in the EU, North America and APAC.

In his closing remarks at the conference, chairman Alberdi said it was clear from the discussions held at the two-day event that access to novel feedstocks was of major importance to the sector.

On a positive note, Alberdi said the biofuels sector’s share of the energy market was growing alongside a growth in newcomers to the industry, such as synthetic fuels, with an accompanying need to cooperate with them.