RTFO to boost U.K. renewable fuels usage

By | February 01, 2006
On Nov. 11, the U.K. government announced plans to implement a renewable fuels standard, called the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO), mainly to achieve carbon reductions much sought by U.K. and European Union (EU) governing bodies.

According to John Waltham, chairman of Wessex Grain Ltd. and its spin-off company Green Spirit Fuels, the RTFO originated as an amendment to the U.K. 2004 energy bill, which became law in July 2005. The RTFO is a 5 percent renewable fuels standard targeted to launch in April 2008 with full compliance expected by 2010, Waltham said. "The final date is 2010, and the '5 percent' is a global figure that may be achieved in a number of ways," he explained. "It gives us a tool to enable us to aim to achieve the EU target, which is currently indicative but will become mandatory if the EU Commission feel that some countries are not achieving reasonable progress toward achieving the targets."

According to Graham Prince, head of Corporate Communications at London-based D1 Oils plc-a company with modular biodiesel production units and a global reach in its jatropha oilseed planting and processing partnerships-U.K. domestic oilseed production can satisfy approximately 75 percent of demand under the 5 percent blend requirement by 2010. This would equal approximately 750,000 metric tons of domestic biodiesel available to satisfy a 1 million-metric-ton need, if replacing 5 percent of the U.K.'s 20 million metric tons of diesel used per year. Of course, as Waltham said, 5 percent is a "global" figure, meaning high volumes of E85 sales, for example, can reduce biodiesel's role in the renewable fuels standard to less than 5 percent.

Nevertheless, Prince believes imports are inevitable to satisfy RTFO requirements. "Imports are going to be required," he told Biodiesel Magazine. "We'll be producing jatropha and biodiesel on a sustainable basis to meet that demand." Exporting D1 Oils' African-produced surpluses of biodiesel to the U.K. by 2010 is highly likely, according to Prince.
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