Mixed response from renewable industry to Govt’s new green bio-fuel formula

Prof. Martin Tangey, President, Celtic Renewables fills up with bio-fuel.
Prof. Martin Tangey, President, Celtic Renewables fills up with bio-fuel.

The renewable energy industry has cautiously welcomed plans by the Department for Transport to increase the amount of renewable fuel in the transport energy mix.

However, the Renewable Energy Association said that the proposals will not allow the UK’s biofuels industry to reach its full potential and could – in the longer run – threaten jobs.

The Brit-Govt will increase the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RTFO) and has published amended Greenhouse Gas Reporting Regulations. The RTFO will be increased to 10% by 2020.

The RTFO ensures that a percentage of the petrol and diesel used UK vehicles comes from renewable sources, especially waste.

The market for renewable fuels, such as bioethanol (blended into petrol) and biodiesel (blended into diesel), has been held at 4.75% since 2012, meaning that over 95% of the transport fuel mix is still fossil-based. T

he RTFO was designed on its introduction nearly a decade ago to be increased to 10% by 2020. This has led to over £1 billion of investment in domestic manufacturing infrastructure.

In its response to the consultation earlier this year on amending the RTFO, the Government is confirming that the UK market share for renewable transport fuels will now reach 9.75% by 2020 and 12.4% by 2032 which is helpful.

Dr. Nina Skorupska (CBE) Chief Executive, Renewable Energy Association, said: “While we welcome this, the use of crops in the production of some of the fuels will be capped at a decreasing level over time, threatening domestic jobs and manufacturing capabilities.

“Renewable gas from anaerobic digestion, which could be used in decarbonising heavy transport, has also been excluded from the “Development Fuels” sub target.

“This is particularly positive for the increasing use of waste-based biofuels. However, the confirmation that a crop cap will be introduced and decreased over time to 2% by 2032 is disappointing.

“Without this existing UK manufacturing infrastructure will not be able to deliver its potential risking UK jobs and investment.”

The UK biofuels industry employs approximately 10,000 people – mostly in Scotland and northern England.

Meanwhile, oil giant BP has recently acquired a joint venture facility in the US that will help with the commercialisation of biobutanol in a move that could compete head-on with Celtic Renewables.

The Edinburgh-based developer has re-modelled a 100-year old formula to turn waste by-products from whisky-making into bio-fuel for motor cars to replace diesel and petrol. It is exploring the feasibility of building a commercial bio-fuel refinery in Scotland.

15 Sept 2017

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