Biofuels lobbies set out positions ahead of RED II trialogue talks

23 Feb 2018 | John McGarrity

"Trialogue" talks on the EU's recast of its Renewable Energy Directive get underway on the 27 February, prompting two Brussels-based biofuels lobbies to set out what they want to see in final legislation.

The Trialogue process will attempt to address the differing thresholds, targets and rules proposed respectively by the EU Council (member states governments), the Commission, and the Parliament so that the final legislation will give the the EU's biofuels sector a clear steer on investments for 2021-2030, the period covered by RED II.

Brussels-based sources said the European Commission is likely to push hard for an overall renewables target "very close" to the 35% upper limit proposed last year, compared with the 27% backed by the European Council last December.

José Blanco López, the Spanish MEP who is the lead rapporteur on the overall RED package, is said to have made the 35% renewables target a red line in negotiations in view of tumbling costs to generate power from wind and solar.

Biofuels lobbies are unsurprisingly strident in their view that the overall renewables target should be as close to 35% as possible, and that the threshold for the level of renewables in transport should be 14% by 2030.

If an overall target is close to the 35%, then the EU Council is likely to ask for major leeway on energy mixes used by individual member states to meet targets.

However in the case of biofuels, lobbies want a minimum threshold in place that would enable the industry to thrive in all member states.

"The transport mandate of 14% should be a minimum target with no option for Member States to lower this number," states a position paper presented this week by the European Biodiesel Board.

But in some areas of the package, the subsidiarity principle would likely benefit biofuels producers, particularly on the elimination of the Parliament's proposed 1.7% threshold for some advanced biofuels (mainly from wastes and residues) as percentage of overall fuel used.

The EBB also wants the final legislation to reject the possibility of Member States to set higher greenhouse gas emissions savings thresholds for biofuels, which it said "would fragment the EU internal market and create different requirements in different EU Member States".


The lobby group is also seeking that in Trialogue a single EU-wide traceability database for feedstocks should be established by the EU Commission and "mass balance" for feedstocks rather than applying measurements to each individiual consignment.

The main lobby group for biodiesel producers, which includes users of palm oil in its membership, is also seeking a "technology neutral" approach that at the same time attempts promotion of advanced biofuels.

It warns against disproportionately high multiplier factors for alternative energy sources, however.

"Multipliers may be used by member states only as an option and if necessary. They should not be used to excessive levels: Any multipliers over two times would artificially reduce the ambition of the EU renewables targets and should be discarded," the EBB said.


Epure, the main lobby for bioethanol producers, said the final legislation should exclude palm oil and support biofuels that contribute sustainably to GHG reduction and food security.

"EU renewable energy policy should look beyond labels like “conventional” or “advanced” and instead focus on the real sustainability credentials of biofuels," the Epure statement added.

Some of the lead MEPs on the RED file have predicted the complex nature of the package would mean that negotiations might not deliver an agreed text until November, but some Brussels-based sources said that the conclusion of Trialogue might come much sooner, perhaps in April or May.