Sustainable biofuels highlighted as key for future transport needs

Transport Energy Task Force determines importance of sustainable biofuels for future transport needs

The Transport Energy Task Force has today highlighted the important role sustainable biofuels will play in meeting the UK's future transport needs, in its concluding report.

The report identified that there is a clear role for sustainable biofuels over the medium to longer term and at least to 2030 when fossil transport fuels will still be dominant. It also called for a "robust and long-term route for ensuring the sustainability of all transport energy including biofuels".

The Transport Energy Task Force, set up by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), was established as a mechanism for stakeholders to help the Government to examine and formulate options for policy regarding transport energy.

Specifically, the Task Force's role was to explore options for meeting the 2020 renewable transport target and the role of biofuels in decarbonising UK transport by 2030.

By providing expertise from a broad stakeholder group, including the fossil fuel, biofuel, aviation and agricultural industries, motor manufacturers, environmental NGOs and Government Departments, the final report emphasised the growing importance of sustainable biomass.

The report agreed the following points:

* We should support biofuels with a low risk of indirect impacts on other land based industries and activities

* Using wastes as feedstocks is beneficial and sustainable, although care needs to be taken that the same wastes are not being claimed several times over in different sectors

* A 10 per cent bioethanol blend in petrol is a key option to meet transport energy targets and this should come from current UK bioethanol facilities which support several thousand jobs in the UK

* The UK is well placed to develop thought leadership on what a sustainable biofuel is

* Investors in our future fuel portfolio, including advanced biofuels, need market certainty to give confidence that the investment will make a reasonable return

* There is still a need to sort out how to define and mitigate risk to everyone's satisfaction, but an interim response may be to impose limits on fuels that may be perceived as higher risk

* The European Parliament and Council are currently negotiating the most appropriate level for this limit

Transport is a major source of greenhouse gases. Around a quarter of domestic carbon dioxide (CO₂) and other greenhouse gas emissions in the UK come from transport. Reducing greenhouse gases from transport will help the UK achieve its long term goal of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent compared to 1990 levels by 2050.

Commenting on the DfT Transport Energy Task Force, the Renewable Energy Association's Chief Executive Dr Nina Skorupska said:

"The REA has devoted a considerable amount of time and effort into ensuring that this Task Force report is balanced and constructive and we are proud of the result as an excellent example of open policy making. We hope that it will enable Ministers in the next UK Government to take early decisions to safeguard the significant investment that has already been made in sustainable UK biofuels and to encourage investors to look to the UK as a good place to invest in the next generation of biofuels.

"Transport accounts for about a quarter of our UK carbon emissions and this has to be reined in. The UK biofuels industry is low risk and sustainable. It has invested over £1 billion and supports over 3,500 jobs. Current and future investors now need clear and long-term policy to allow the industry to thrive."

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