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jan 15

The changing context for biofuels in the new Renewable Energy Directive for 2021-2030

The recast of Renewable Energy Directive (RED-II) for the time frame 2021-2030 has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The Directive (EU/2018/2001) can be downloaded here:

The new RED-II has some changed implications for sustainable biofuels.
Here are some relevant issues:

A binding overall Union 2030 target for renewable energy of 32% (Article 3)

the share of energy from renewable sources in final consumption of energy in the European Union as a whole – not at individual Member State level – in 2030 should be at least 32 %.

Renewable energy in the transport sector of at least 14% (Article 25-29)

Each Member States shall set an obligation to fuel suppliers to ensure that the share of renewable energy within the final consumption of energy in the transport sector is at least 14 % by 2030 (minimum share) in accordance with an indicative trajectory set by the Member State and calculated in accordance with the methodology set out in this Article (25) and in Articles 26 and 27. For the calculation of the minimum share, Member States:

  • shall take into account renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin also when they are used as intermediate products for the production of conventional fuels, and
  • may take into account recycled carbon fuels.

Advanced biofuels

Within the minimum share referred to in the first subparagraph, the contribution of advanced biofuels and biogas produced from the feedstock listed in Part A of Annex IX as a share of final consumption of energy in the transport sector shall be at least 0,2 % in 2022, at least 1 % in 2025 and at least 3,5 % in 2030.

Specific rules are described for biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels produced from food and feed crops (Article 26)

For the calculation of a Member State’s gross final consumption of energy from renewable sources referred to in Article 7 and the minimum share of 14%, the share of biofuels and bioliquids, as well as of biomass fuels consumed in transport, where produced from food and feed crops, shall be no more than one percentage point higher than the share of such fuels in the final consumption of energy in the road and rail transport sectors in 2020 in that Member State, with a maximum of 7 % of final consumption of energy in the road and rail transport sectors in that Member State. Where that share is below 1 % in a Member State, it may be increased to a maximum of 2 % of the final consumption of energy in the road and rail transport sectors. Member States may set a lower limit and may distinguish, for the purposes of Article 29(1), between different biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels produced from food and feed crops, taking into account best available evidence on indirect land-use change impact. Member States may, for example, set a lower limit for the share of biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels produced from oil crops.
Where the share of biofuels and bioliquids, as well as of biomass fuels consumed in transport, produced from food and feed crops in a Member State is limited to a share lower than 7 % or a Member State decides to limit the share further, that Member State may reduce the minimum share, by a maximum of 7 percentage points.

For the calculation of a Member State’s gross final consumption of energy from renewable sources referred to in Article 7 and the minimum share, the share of high indirect land- use change-risk biofuels, bioliquids or biomass fuels produced from food and feed crops for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high-carbon stock is observed shall not exceed the level of consumption of such fuels in that Member State in 2019, unless they are certified to be low indirect land-use change- risk biofuels, bioliquids or biomass fuels pursuant to this paragraph. From 31 December 2023 until 31 December 2030 at the latest, that limit shall gradually decrease to 0 %.

Calculation rules with regard to the minimum shares of renewable energy in the transport sector (Article 27)

Full details on the calculation of the minimum shares of renewable energy can be found in Article 27. For biofuels from feedstocks mentioned in Part B of Annex IX (used cooking oil, animal fats) the following is important:  the share of biofuels and biogas produced from the feedstock listed in Part B of Annex IX shall, except for in Cyprus and Malta, be limited to 1,7 % of the energy content of transport fuels supplied for consumption or use on the market. Member States may, where justified, modify that limit, taking into account the availability of feedstock. Any such modification shall be subject to approval by the Commission.

For the compliance of the minimum share, the share of some biofuels may be subject to a multiplier factor:

  • the share of biofuels and biogas for transport produced from the feedstock listed in Annex IX may be considered to be twice its energy content;
  • the share of renewable electricity shall be considered to be four times its energy content when supplied to road vehicles and may be considered to be 1,5 times its energy content when supplied to rail transport;
  • with the exception of fuels produced from food and feed crops, the share of fuels supplied in the aviation and maritime sectors shall be considered to be 1,2 times their energy content.

Sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria for biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels (Article 29)

Energy from biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels shall be taken into account for the purposes referred to in points (a), (b) and (c) of this subparagraph only if they fulfil the sustainability and the greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria laid down in paragraphs 2 to 7 and 10.

However, biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels produced from waste and residues, other than agricultural, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry residues, are required to fulfil only the greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria laid down in paragraph 10 in order to be taken into account for the purposes referred to in points (a), (b) and (c) of the first subparagraph. This subparagraph shall also apply to waste and residues that are first processed into a product before being further processed into biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels.

Biomass fuels shall fulfil the sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria laid down in paragraphs 2 to 7 and 10 if used in installations producing electricity, heating and cooling or fuels with a total rated thermal input equal to or exceeding 20 MW in the case of solid biomass fuels, and with a total rated thermal input equal to or exceeding 2 MW in the case of gaseous biomass fuels. Member States may apply the sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria to installations with lower total rated thermal input.

The sustainability and the greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria laid down in paragraphs 2 to 7 and 10 shall apply irrespective of the geographical origin of the biomass.

Biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels produced from agricultural biomass shall not be made from raw material obtained from land with a high biodiversity value, with high-carbon stock or land that was peatland in January 2008. In the paragraphs of Article 29 it is further clarified which type of lands are meant.

For biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels produced from forest biomass also a list of criteria was mentioned in Article 29 to minimise the risk of using forest biomass derived from unsustainable production.

The greenhouse gas emission savings from the use of biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels taken into account for the purposes referred to in paragraph 1 shall be:

  • at least 50 % for biofuels, biogas consumed in the transport sector, and bioliquids produced in installations in operation on or before 5 October 2015;
  • at least 60 % for biofuels, biogas consumed in the transport sector, and bioliquids produced in installations starting operation from 6 October 2015 until 31 December 2020;
  • at least 65 % for biofuels, biogas consumed in the transport sector, and bioliquids produced in installations starting operation from 1 January 2021;
  • at least 70 % for electricity, heating and cooling production from biomass fuels used in installations starting operation from 1 January 2021 until 31 December 2025, and 80 % for installations starting operation from 1 January 2026.

The greenhouse gas emissions savings from the use of renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non- biological origin shall be at least 70 % from 1 January 2021 (Article 25).