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There goes the biofuels $21 billion dollar industry: Reality bites in EU draft

From Charlie Dunmore, Reuters: E xclusive: EU to limit use of crop-based biofuels – draft law

Another green goodwill project (that just happens to be worth billions) is facing the bad news that the bureaucrats are fingering the axe. A leaked EU proposal to cut public subsidies to biofuels is quite a u-turn. Only three years ago the EU raved about biofuels.

The plans also include a promise to end all public subsidies for crop-based biofuels after the current legislation expires in 2020, effectively ensuring the decline of a European sector now estimated to be worth 17 billion euros ($21.7 billion) a year.

If you are wondering how serious they are, read this:

“The (European) Commission is of the view that in the period after 2020, biofuels should only be subsidized if they lead to substantial greenhouse gas savings… and are not produced from crops used for food and feed,” the draft said.

Well that’s it then isn’t it? If they actually have to reduce emissions that kills it off right there, but just to make sure, they must also not be taken from the mouths of people or animals.

Under the proposals, the use of biofuels made from crops such as rapeseed and wheat would be limited to 5 percent of total energy consumption in the EU transport sector in 2020.

Such a limit will throw into doubt the EU’s binding target to source 10 percent of road transport fuels from renewable sources by the end of the decade, the vast majority of which was expected to come from crop-based biofuels.

Call me a cynic, but I would think the state of the EU basket-case-economy could be forcing some people to do sensible things, though I’m heartened to see that at least they say they doing it because of the science. Someone has noticed that protecting ugly black coal deposits deep underground means sacrificing juicy verdant forests on the surface.

 “… crop-based biodiesel has a worse carbon footprint than normal diesel. “

The proposals are contained in long-awaited EU plans to address the indirect land use change (ILUC) impact of biofuels, a subject that has split officials, biofuel producers and scientists, delaying legislative proposal for almost two years.

ILUC is a theory that states that by diverting food crops into fuel tanks, biofuel production increases overall global demand for agricultural land. If farmers meet that extra demand by cutting down rainforest and draining peatland, it results in millions of tonnes of additional carbon emissions.

The draft law includes new ILUC emissions values for the three major crop types used to produce biofuels: cereals, sugars and oilseeds. These values must be included when calculating emissions savings from biofuels under an EU fuel quality law designed to encourage fuel suppliers to cut emissions from road transport fuels by 6 percent by 2020.

Or course, I don’t wish any ills upon the poor sods in the Biofuels industry — more victims of big-government fickle rules. (What the government gives, the government taketh and all). I do hope that in the long run, the harsh test of real competition will mean realistic biofuel alternatives get a chance to thrive. This former molecular biology scholar thinks some biofuels have a lot of potential.

Quotes from  Reuters

h/t Mark D

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