Commited to the Directive

European Motor Biofuels Forum addresses biofuels policy and production
By Kathy Bryan | March 01, 2004
More than 300 people from 28 countries gathered in Berlin in late November to discuss global efforts to extend fossil fuel supplies with renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol.

Focusing primarily on the European Union (EU), The 4th European Motor Biofuels Forum, held November 24-25, yielded an exceptionally broad overview of the global rise of biofuels. Discussions centered on policy, production and feedstocks. Marketplace issues and fuel quality standards were also addressed.

Political commitment in place In his opening remarks, the chairman of the influential Union for Promoting Oilseeds and Proteinplants (UFOP), Dr. Klaus Kliem, stated, "The Federal Government has emphasized its political commitment for opening new outlets and sources of income for farming and forestry. I am grateful for the cross-party consensus in Parliament which will allow biofuels to be freed from taxation until at least the end of 2009. This is an important signal for production currently developing in Germany."

Kliem went on to say that the EU member states must choose a path for future research and development-for both biodiesel and ethanol-and provide a forecast of the development of new biological fuels, which are classified under the generic term "Sundiesel."

Support for the continuing development of the biofuels industry in EU states (and EU "accession" nations) was echoed again and again by representatives of key government agencies, such as Matthias Berninger of the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture, as well as Mechtild Rothe, a member of the European Parliament from Belgium, who said she supports the biofuels mandate because member states would avoid compliance without it.
The policy is in place to increase the volume of biofuels produced and used in EU nations, but most of the accession countries-nations that will eventually become members of the EU-are also working toward complying with the biofuels program, according to Magdalena Rogulska, a system analyst at the IMBER Institute in Poland.

Don Stevens, program manager at Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland, Wash., clarified how policies help remove the barriers to biofuels implementation. Those barriers, he said, are primarily: product cost, technology risk, infrastructure issues, vehicle compatibility and "momentum." The primary types of policies that have historically been implemented have been taxation-based, agricultural-based or fuel mandates, Stevens explained.

Remedying emissions problems European Biodiesel Board President Moritz Gaede explained that, with the exception of the transportation sector, all other sectors of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU have improved. Increased use of biofuels is the only viable way to remedy that problem, Gaede said, noting that the transportation sector is almost 100 percent dependent on oil.

Marketplace growing
Use of biodiesel within the 15-member EU is far more developed than any other country or region in the world. In 2003, approximately 1.35 million metric tons (nearly 1.5 tons) of biodiesel were produced in what is called the"EU-15." By 2005, 10 more countries could become members of the EU, adding biodiesel production capacity.

What does the 2 percent mandate target mean in terms of a future "EU-25?"

UFOP executive Dieter Bockey explained, "Many discussions have been held on the marketing of pure biodiesel or as an additive to diesel fuels. However, the success achieved in marketing pure biodiesel in Germany and Austria is [unchallenged]. In these countries, biodiesel is no longer a 'no-name product'-it's generally known to the public."

Bockey continued, "The marketing of the pure product opens a series of positive arguments to improve [consumer acceptance and political acceptance among European lawmakers]."

At hand are the politically popular attributes of biodiesel, including its biodegradability, its ability to reduce exhaust emissions, and its non-toxicity.

In Germany alone, biodiesel is currently available at over 1,700 public filling stations. In fact, every 10th public filling station in Germany will soon supply biodiesel, according to industry analysts. The marketing of biodiesel in Germany, through a public filling station network, will be further extended in the future. For small, independent filling stations in Germany, biodiesel has become an important supplementary product that's given many retailers a competitive edge in an aggressive marketplace.

Imports will be monitored Imports of biodiesel into the EU from Brazil draw considerable attention among producers and supporters of biodiesel in the EU. However, the balance and flow of biodiesel into EU member countries will be closely monitored in order to control saturation of the marketplace as the accession countries begin to produce more biofuels and become members.

New biodiesel standard to be published soonAs has been experienced worldwide with the fuel ethanol industry, quality control is of utmost importance to both consumers and automobile manufacturers. The vast majority of private cars in Europe have diesel engines rather than gasoline, as in the United States. According to Barry Cahill with the Fuels Engineering department of PSA Peugeot Citroen, a new European automotive fuel standard for biodiesel has been designed and should be published soon. The standard was made in response to a mandate given to CEN, the European standardization organization, and was overseen by a group that usually deals with fossil fuels. A task force drawn from biodiesel producers, distributors and users has pooled its expertise to create what is intended to be the highest quality industrial specification for biodiesel within the bounds of today's know-how. The standard is a timely addition to the European standards and will contribute to the European Union's policy to extend the use of biofuels. The debate on the specification spanned more than two years and nine meetings.

EU is feedstock neutral
Kerr Walker of the Scottish Agricultural College presented a review of oilseeds for biodiesel in the EU. Rapeseed and sunflower seed are dominant feedstocks in the EU, he said. Likewise, rapeseed is the primary feedstock in Canada, and soybean oil is the leading feedstock in the U.S. However, new temperate oils crops are under investigation in the EU: camelina, dual purpose hemp and flax, mustard, borage, coriander, meadowfoam, marigold and safflower, to name a few. Walker also reported that in India, plant byproduct oils come from rice bran, cottonseed and seeds of tobacco, melon, chilli and jute.

Walker predicted that traditional crop sources of biodiesel are likely to be higher yielding and approach ideal fatty acid profiles. Animal fats, he said, may offer a cheaper source of feedstock, but greater management skills are required in production of the ester. Walker concluded by saying, "Although offering interesting opportunities, new crops are unlikely to produce a cheap source of biodiesel feedstock in the short-term."

Graeme Marshall, director of Clean Fuels, Environment Australia, said that the Australian government is trying to learn from the biofuels experiences of Europe and the United States. The primary biodiesel feedstock in Australia is rapeseed and Malaysian palm oil.

In Austria, a new collection and recycling system for used cooking oil (recycled vegetable oil), called the "Íli-System," has been established. Spokesman Klaus Meyer said that what makes Íli so popular is three-liter containers for households and 25-liter containers for the catering industry. They offer a unique, free-of-charge, container-exchange service. Impressively, an estimated 1 million households in six federal counties in Austria collect used cooking oil through the Íli-System.

By almost every measure, the EU is far ahead of the rest of the world in biodiesel production and use, and it will likely continue along this impressive path forward. As countries such as the United States and Australia build production capacity and refueling infrastructure, the challenges already overcome by the EU will serve as a guidebook to building success. In other words, we can learn from its experiences in biodiesel just as other countries have looked to the United States and Brazil for lessons from the ethanol industry. ,

For more information about the European Motor Biofuels Forum,visit www.europoint-bv.com/events.
 
 
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