The British Department of Transport has published a new consultation on the future of renewable transport, setting out long term targets towards 2030.
The consultation proposes capping fuel crops to below EU levels – risking existing UK plants and supply chain – and introduces new sub-target for development fuels such as biomethane, hydrogen and aviation fuels.
British Transport Minister John Hayes, MP, explained: “Our strategy is to provide a positive investment environment beyond 2020 to further encourage the development of waste-based and advanced fuels – while limiting the use of fuels made from crops.”
Normally the DoT’s jurisdiction covers England-only (and transport issues relating to roads and infrastructure <but not rail> are devolved to the Scottish Government.
But because this is an EU and tax-related matter, Whitehall sources said last night that it will also potentially adversely impact on Scotland’s bio- and other green-fuels sector, as well as RUK.
And a spokesman for the UK Renewable Energy Association – the largest such trade body in Britain – added:
“Whilst it is positive that the industry will now have some long sought after policy certainty, the proposed indiscriminate capping of fuel crops could condemn over a £1 billion of assets of our members.
“The move to include a new sub-target for biomethane, hydrogen and aviation fuels is welcome, but the truth is that the targets are disappointingly low and will mean that over 90% of our fuel use for decades to come will come from polluting fossil sources.
“It is crucial that genuinely sustainable biofuels are encouraged, something the UK was leading on and we could now see stagnation of plants at best – and closure at worst.”
Meanwhile, Virginia Graham, Chief Executive of the Green Gas Certification Scheme, welcomed the Department of Transport’s proposal to incentivise ‘development’ transport fuels through the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.
One of these fuels is biomethane, a renewable green gas produced from biomass and wastes which can either be injected to the gas grid or shipped to the point of use.
She explained: “Currently most biomethane is injected into the gas distribution network. It can then be taken out, where needed, and used for various purposes, including for transport. It makes an excellent, clean vehicle fuel, bringing benefits in terms of decarbonisation, reduced particulate emissions and lower noise levels.
“Injecting the gas directly into the grid at source is more reliable than taking it to the point of use by other means. The Green Gas Certification Scheme tracks biomethane injected into the grid in one location to where it is taken out and used in another.
“This tracking ensures that each unit of gas taken out of the grid matches exactly a unit of gas injected and ensures that there can be no duplication or double counting. The scheme can also be used to perform this role for other non-biological renewable fuels such as hydrogen.”