Back in July, we revealed how we were lobbying government for tighter carbon targets for the biodiesel industry.
And there has been a development (although we’re pretty sure we can’t take the credit for this).
Up until now, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) has required companies producing more than 450,000 litres of road fuel a year to source 4.75% of their supply from renewable biofuels.
But from 2020, the government has announced that this obligation level will rise to 9.75%.
This means that by then, road transport fuel companies must be sourcing 9.75% of the fuel they produce from renewable sources.
And in 2032, this obligation will rise even further – to 12.4%.
A strict crop cap
In terms of how these renewable forms of energy will be sourced, we were worried that the government wouldn’t place enough restrictions on the use of biofuel made from new crops, like palm oil. The EU’s target of sourcing 10% of transport fuel from renewables by 2020 coincided with a five-fold expansion in the use of palm oil as a biofuel, and huge deforestation in developing countries.
So we’re really pleased that the government has announced a crop cap of 4% in 2018 – and that from 2021, this crop cap will drop annually until it reaches 3% in 2026, and 2% in 2032.
Of course, it means that biofuels will need to be sourced from waste products, including used cooking oil. And yes, we’re obviously pleased about that too.
Waste oils already provide nearly 700 million litres of the UK’s biodiesel supply, according to Biodiesel Magazine – and they reckon consumption will more than double over the next few years if targets are met.
Aviation fuels to now be brought into the RTFO
The other crucial announcement from the government concerns aeroplane fuel, which up until now has left out of the RTFO – a glaring emission as aviation is a key contributor to carbon emissions.
According to the ATAG, aviation is responsible for 12% of carbon dioxide emissions, compared to 74% for road transport.
“Crop-based biofuels are on their way out and rightly have no place in our future energy mix,” says WWF’s biofuels and energy expert James Beard.
“We are pleased the government has announced a way forward,” says Stephen Hurton, founder and managing director of Proper Oils. “But we should be asking whether it is increasing fast enough? And do we need to push harder for sustainable fuel to curb the increasingly dramatic effects of climate change?”
Find out more about the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.
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