In July 2011, the EU Commission defined ambitious sustainability standards for biofuels. Which certification schemes apply and what aspects do biomass producers have to take into consideration to exploit the full potential of their biomass production? The biofuel pros at TÜV SÜD provide an overview and offer impartial third-party support.

Fuel of the future

Igor Dormuth and Elena Schmidt | TÜV SÜD Industrie Service

Last year, biofuels covered around six per cent of the fuel consumption in Germany. The EU approved seven voluntary certification schemes for the first time in July. Germany's government has been supporting and controlling the expansion of biofuels for some years, establishing sustainability criteria, tax benefits and quotas.

Understanding sustainability requirements

The Biofuel Sustainability Ordinance (Biokraftstoff-Nachhaltigkeitsverordnung, BioKraft-NachV) is one of the instruments that apply in Germany. This ordinance aims at establishing sustainable biomass use. The provisions of the ordinance apply throughout the supply chain, from the biomass producer to the distributor and biofuel producer. Each link must request the previous link in the supply chain to submit a valid certificate.

The final link in the chain comprises sustainability certificates, which are a precondition for crediting the respective quantity of biofuel to the biofuel quota in accordance with Germany's Air Pollution Control Act (Bundesimmissionsschutzgesetz, BlmSchG) and for obtaining tax benefits under Germany's Energy Tax Law (Energiesteuergesetz, EnergieSt). This is because pure biofuels that are not used for meeting the biofuel quota will incur tax relief until 2012.

Analysis of the entire process chain

Biofuel companies can choose between various approved certification schemes. Certification schemes can be approved either by national authorities or the EU Commission. In Germany, for example, the ISCC and REDCert certification schemes have unlimited approval at present. TÜV SÜD's third-party experts conduct certification in accordance with both systems.

Parallel to the above, the EU Commission has now recognised several voluntary certification schemes for an initial period of five years. The intention is for these schemes to make a contribution to raising the share of energy from renewable sources in the transport sector to 10 per cent by 2020 in a sustainable manner. This goal is set forth in the EU Directive on the promotion of energy from renewable sources, which the EU Commission already passed in April 2009.

Two types of accounting

The Directive aims at further reducing greenhouse gas emissions in both biofuel production and consumption. In Germany, the Directive was transposed into national law by the German Biofuel Sustainability Ordinance (Biokraftstoff-Nachhaltigkeitsverordnung, BioKraft-NachV). Biofuels must produce significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. The emission reduction target is 35 per cent at present and will rise to 50 per cent from 2017 onwards.

In order to verify the emission reduction potential, the experts analyse the entire value chain. Greenhouse gas accounting can be based on 'default values', which the EU Directive identifies for various raw materials. Another possibility is the exact determination of emissions, which can make particularly good sense in highly efficient processes. In this case, assessment by the TÜV SÜD auditors covers a host of aspects including transport routes, energy input and changes in land use.


Biofuels are technically mature and can already replace larger volumes of mineral oil today. However, biofuels and other bioliquids are subject to complex and multi-faceted legal regulations. The third-party experts at TÜV SÜD certify biofuel production, thus adding reliability and certainty to future planning.



Igor Dormuth Product Manager for the Certification of Biofuels and Other Bioliquids (Carbon Management Service department at TÜV SÜD Industrie Service)

Elena Schmidt: Product Manager for the Certification of Biomethane (Carbon Management Service department at TÜV SÜD Industrie Service)


TÜV SÜD Industrie Service GmbH

Carbon Management Service

Westendstrasse 199

80686 Munich


Tel: +49 (0)89 5791-2246

Fax: +49 (0)89 5791-2756


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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