EU energy ministers set to reach key decision on biofuels

The EU Energy Council is expected to reach political agreement on measures to incorporate indirect land use change (ILUC) into EU biofuels policies on 13 June, which would effectively bring a close to almost two years of investment-blocking policy paralysis in the low carbon fuels sector. This is according to a statement from the UK's Renewable Energy Association (REA).

Both the Environment Council and the Energy Council will also debate the EU's Energy Security Strategy – which has been brought into stark focus by ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine – and the 2030 Climate Change Framework. The latter is expected to be finalised by October.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey will represent the UK at the Energy Council meeting on Friday.

The Energy Council will vote on ILUC proposals agreed last month by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), including:
• A 7% cap on transport energy from crop-based biofuels
• Mandatory reporting of ILUC factors for crop-based biofuels
• Multiple counting of transport energy sources towards EU renewable transport target and overall renewable energy targets:
o biofuels from non-crop feedstocks (including used cooking oil and tallow) at x2
o electric rail at x2.5
o electric vehicles at x5
• A target of 0.5% transport energy from advanced biofuels from non-crop feedstocks (excluding used cooking oil and tallow)

These proposals, if agreed, will then go to second reading in the new European Parliament before becoming law.

REA CEO Nina Skorupska comments: 'The ILUC saga has gone on long enough. We urge ministers to reach agreement and put this issue to bed. Assuming a smooth second reading, the UK government will be able to set out its trajectory to the 2020 target and our transport members will be able to get back to doing what they do best: investing to supply sustainable fuel for our cars and feed for UK livestock.'

Both the Environment and Energy Councils will debate the 2030 climate and energy framework. The Commission's proposals, published in January, include a renewable energy target of a minimum of 27%. However, while individual Member States will have their own greenhouse gas targets, they will not have their own binding renewable energy targets under these proposals.

Including binding renewable energy targets for individual Member States would provide the clearest market signal to renewable energy investors, reducing risk and cost of capital and unlocking job creation opportunities. Faster deployment will also accelerate cost reductions, with some technologies on track to reach price parity with fossil fuels, and no longer require subsidy, even before 2030.

The Commission's communication on a European Energy Security Strategy, to be debated by the Energy Council, acknowledges the role of home-grown renewable energy in reducing fossil fuel imports, but is primarily concerned with rearranging flows of natural gas.

Skorupska continues: 'Renewables and energy efficiency should be right at the heart of the climate change and energy security frameworks. Until the real costs of using fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transport are correctly taken into account, national renewables targets will remain important for providing investors with the confidence they need to grow the industry, create jobs and bring down costs. The solution to both climate change and energy security concerns is to break our addiction to fossil fuels. This does not mean simply searching out new natural gas supplies. It means targeted measures to reduce energy demand and expand production of home-grown renewable power, heating and transport fuels.'

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