An alternative to 5.75% biofuels in 2010

Over the last few years doubts have arisen about whether the current genera-tion of biofuels indeed lead to environmental gains. The Netherlands Society for Nature and Environment (Stichting Natuur en Milieu) therefore commis-sioned CE Delft to assess whether greater benefits can be achieved at similar cost using alternative measures. Increasing the share of biofuels to 5.75% is anticipated to cost the average motorist about 3 to 4 eurocents per litre fuel in 2010. Lowering this figure to 2.5% would make the biofuels programme around 260 million euro cheaper. At the heart of the alternative package is to use 200 million of these savings for a different set of climate protection measures. These funds can be col-lected by the government by retaining the official target of 5.75% of current biofuels policy but augmenting it with introduction of an attractive buy-out scheme for oil companies for sales over and above 2.5%. The main elements of the proposed alternative policy package are electrically powered vehicles, use of wood as a refinery feedstock, sustainable bio-electricity, offshore wind power, concentrated solar thermal power in Morocco, blue energy (from mixing fresh and salt water) and research into second-generation biofuels. The alternative package reduces competition between fuel and food. It also leads to at least 1.4 Mt greater savings on greenhouse gas emissions than 5.75% biofuels. Finally, the alternative package means greater investments in the transition to a sustainable energy supply. Europe If the target for the share of biofuels were lowered to 2.5% in 2010 across the European Union, the budget available for alternative policies would be an es-timated 6.2 billion euro a year. If that budget were used to promote electric transport, sustainable bio-electricity, offshore wind power, energy from waste, concentrated solar power in North Africa and research on second-generation biofuels, it would probably lead to at least 30 Mt greater savings on CO2 emis-sions than the EU’s current biofuels programme.