The European Commission has launched a stakeholder consultation to expand the list of the so-called advanced or second-generation biofuels of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), EURACTIV.com has learned.
RED II has been adopted but needs to be transposed into national legislation of the EU27 by July 2021 before it takes effect. It aims, among other things, to decarbonise the EU transport sector by 2030, also with the use of advanced biofuels that are part of ANNEX IX of the legislation.
Sources told EURACTIV that the European Commission has a legal mandate to review the list of advanced biofuels (ANNEX IX) regularly, but emphasised that “the Commission is only empowered to add feedstock, but not to remove feedstock from Annex IX”.
They added that the stakeholder consultation was launched in the context of a study aimed at preparing the evidence base for the review, foreseen for June 2021.
“It does not represent a formal part of the process,” the sources explained.
However, the issue has raised eyebrows as some previous advanced biofuels proposals were controversial.
In 2018, environmentalists suggested that some crop co-products, such as sugar molasses, were not sustainable to be eligible to receive subsidies and be counted towards the EU’s 2030 objective on renewables.
“We have always had concerns about Annex IX. And we didn’t keep molasses off it for nothing,” Green MEP Bas Eickhout told EURACTIV.
Eickhout added that although it was still early, he was urging the Commission not to rush to add anything to the list.
“Especially with the Green Deal and the circular economy much more central now,” he said, adding that many of these products could be put to a better use than as biofuels.
In 2018, the European Parliament blocked molasses from the list and now a part of the biofuel industry fears that some heavily lobby in Brussels to bring to the list unstainable biofuels through the back door.
According to sources consulted by EURACTIV, RED II foresees that Annex IX can be amended via delegated acts, which are prepared and adopted by the Commission, after consulting expert groups composed of representatives from the member states.
Once the Commission has adopted a delegated act, the European Parliament and the EU Council generally have two months to formulate any objections. If there are none, the delegated act enters into force.
Several EU documents have emphasised the need for business certainty and investment confidence, however, the reality is slightly different.
The biofuel industry has been complaining for a long time now that the constantly changing EU legislation in the sector has dealt a severe blow to the industry.
Critics suggest that building a biofuels plant means 3-5 years of heavy investment before any revenues and unless there is an at least 10-year horizon, the investment is less and less likely.
“It’s not sure what the outcome will be. But we see a…
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