EBB releases new European production, capacity statistics

By Erin Voegele | October 19, 2011

The European Biodiesel Board has released a new set of statistics that show that the region’s domestic biodiesel production decreased during the first two quarters in 2011. Comparatively, the EU experienced moderate production growth in 2010.

According to the EBB, the 2010 biodiesel production in Europe grew by 5.5 percent when compared to the production of 2009. However, forecasts for 2011 show a reduction when compared to the same time last year. While the industry continued to grow last year, it was at a much slower rate than in previous years. In 2009, the EU’s biodiesel industry grew by 17 percent. In 2008 the growth rate was 35 percent.

Germany and France continue to lead the EU in biodiesel production, followed by Spain and Italy. As of July 2011, total biodiesel production capacity in Europe reached 22 million tons (6.6 billion gallons) from 254 existing production facilities. However, less than half of that capacity is in operation. The EBB states that during the first two quarters of 2011, only 44 percent of capacity was being utilized. “For the first time in registered history, the entire European production has slightly decreased year-on-year,” said the NBB in a statement, noting that the decrease was particularly notable during the second quarter of 2011. “Increased imports from third countries such as Argentina, Indonesia as well as circumvention measures from North America are mostly likely to have contributed to lessen European domestic production,” the EBB stated.

Few European countries have experienced a growth in production capacity over the past year. Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, and Spain reported slight increases. Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, Romania, and the U.K. reported slight reductions in production capacity. Regarding comparisons between 2009 and 2010 actual production levels, the EBB reported that production increased in Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and the U.K. Production fell during this time in Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Slovakia.

The EBB also noted that National Action Plans submitted by EU member states under the Renewable Energy Directive show that biodiesel is expected to fulfill at least 66 percent of the RED targets, which would translate into 24 million metric tons (7.2 billion gallons) of demand. However, the board also points out that international trade and regulatory challenges could strengthen the trend of declining domestic production.

The EBB also addresses indirect land use change in the statement it published regarding the release of its new statistics. “In the view of the EBB, it is essential that efforts to implement the Renewable Energy Directive and its 2020 objectives are not diverted by the current debate over biofuels [ILUC],” said the board in a published release. “Give the lack of robustness of existing econometrical models, assessing the existence and magnitude of ILUC remains a daunting task.”

In addition, the EBB discusses the issue of trade distortions, specifically noting efforts related to antidumping and countervailing measure for U.S. biodiesel. However, the board points out that beyond the circumvention of EU duties related to B99, the general trend of increased biodiesel imports raises concerns. In 2010 the EU imported at least 1.9 million tons (570 million gallons) of biodiesel. Approximately 61 percent of these imports were sourced from Argentina, 26 percent from Indonesia, with lesser quantities from Canada, Malaysia, India, Singapore and the rest of the world. During the first quarter of 2011, 71 percent of the imported biodiesel entering the EU came from Argentina, while 27 percent came from Indonesia. As a result, the EBB supports the recent proposal by the European Commission to remove Argentina and Malaysia from the list of countries benefiting from the Generalized System of Preferences. If the proposal is adopted, biodiesel entering the EU from these two countries would be subject to a 6.5 percent import duty. 


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