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H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L



S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : E N E R G Y

How important a role will

biofuels play in future

sustainable transport?

The EBTP supports the European alternative

fuels strategy that was launched in 2013 by the

European Commission. The EU institution’s

communication sets out a comprehensive

alternative fuels strategy and the road to its

implementation, covering all modes of

transport. It aims at establishing a long term

policy framework to guide technological

development and investments in the

deployment of these fuels and give confidence

to consumers.

The strategy states: ‘For certain modes of

transport, in particular long distance road

freight and aviation, limited alternatives are

available. There is no single fuel solution for the

future of mobility and all main alternative fuel

options must be pursued, with a focus on the

needs of each transport mode.

‘A strategic approach for the Union to meet the

long term needs of all transport modes must

therefore build on a comprehensive mix of

alternative fuels. All options need to be

included in the strategy without giving

preference to any particular fuel, thereby

keeping technology neutrality.’

Among alternative fuels, advanced biofuels are

the best to fulfil the criteria of renewability and

low fossil carbon content. Market introduction will

be easiest for biofuels that are fully fungible, i.e.

can be easily blended with fuels currently on the

market. However, there are also opportunities for

niche value chains that can be successfully

exploited in a more distributed manner, where

there is a favourable combination of feedstock,

for example forestry/paper mill residues and

end use, e.g. freight fleets.

The winning options will be the pathways that best

address combined strategic and sustainability

targets: environmental performances, security

and diversification of energy supply, economic

competitiveness and public acceptance.

diversifying opportunities for the farming communities and

create/maintain green jobs in rural areas.

The main challenges facing the biomass supply generally and the

provision of energy crops are: supplying diverse markets and consumer

needs (bio-cascading solutions); expanding feedstock supplies including

sustainable trade; meeting the quality requirements of the processes

through improved certification; and maximising yield per unit area by

minimising negative environmental impacts.

EBTP considers energy crops as part of the mix for the security of

biomass supply to the sector, and as such supports actions that

maximise synergies in the forest and agricultural industries, as well as

developing optimal patterns for the use of raw material accounting for

all markets and end products. A positive and reliable policy and market

framework would be desirable, as the technologies and the feedstock

are already available.

How can the development of biofuels be appropriately

balanced with growing food in Europe?

In order to prevent too much farmland/crops from being devoted to

biofuel production instead of food, the EU opted to promote the use of

wastes, residues and lignocellulosic material by making biofuels derived

from these feedstocks count for double their real energy value.

In theory, there is enough land available to feed a growing population

and allow the production of renewable energies without any conflicts.

Many losses occur during food production, processing or handling and

cause food shortage in some regions of the world. A set of measures,

such as supply with modern inputs, improved facilities for the storage of

the harvests to avoid losses, improved access to markets, better

extension services, more research to increase the production per hectare

as well as education and training, need to be implemented in such

regions. In Europe, biofuels for transport are part of an important strategy

to improve fuel security and independency, mitigate climate change and

support rural development.

Birger Kerckow

Britta Müller


Platform secretariat



2 0 2 0

Balancing land use

between growing food

and the production of

renewable energy

should be possible,

says the EBTP