The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton T.D., today (Monday the 30th of September) published a public consultation on the level of renewable energy in road transport fuels.
The government's Climate Action Plan, published earlier this year, sets out over 180 actions we need to take in every Department and every sector to achieve our 2030 targets, putting us on a trajectory to meet be net zero emissions by 2050. Transitioning to cleaner fuels is a key part of the Plan.
Since 2010, suppliers of road transport fuel have been required to ensure that biofuels make up a certain percentage of annual fuel sales. Since the start of 2019, the obligation has been set at 10% by volume. From the start of 2020, the obligation will increase to 11% by volume. This consultation, which is an action in the Climate Action Plan, seeks views for how we can further increase ambition over the coming decade.
Minister Bruton said,
"We must radically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and transition to more sustainable, low carbon alternatives. Since the start of this year, we have increased the biofuel obligation from 8% to 10% by volume, with a further increase coming in January which will bring it to 11% by volume. As a result of these measures, the use of biofuels will reduce emissions by an estimated 500,000 tonnes every year. This is equivalent to taking almost 150,000 cars off the road. We must build on that significant progress and see how we can further contribute to reducing emissions through the use of sustainable biofuels."
The consultation seeks input on a number of questions including the level of renewable energy in the transport sector in 2030, the introduction of an additional obligation for advanced biofuels, technical challenges and cost impacts.
The public consultation will be open until 15 November 2019. Details of how members of the public and interested stakeholders can have their say on this consultation are available on the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment's website here:https://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/energy/consultations/Pages/Public-Consultation-on-Biofuels-Obligation-Scheme.aspx
Notes for the Editor
Biofuels are transport fuels produced from renewable sources. The most common biofuels are bioethanol, which is typically blended with petrol; and biodiesel, which is typically blended with diesel. Bioethanol can be produced from crops such as sugar, wheat or corn. Materials such as plant oils and animal fats can be used to make biodiesel.
Biofuels have a wide range of benefits from reducing Ireland's dependency on oil to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The Biofuel Obligation Scheme also has an important role to play in helping Ireland meet its renewable energy targets.
The Biofuels Obligation Scheme was introduced in 2010 and is administered by the National Oil Reserves Agency. The scheme obliges each fuel supplier in the road transport sector to ensure a certain proportion of all fuel supplied is from renewable sources.
It is a certificate-based scheme where certificates are issued in respect of volumes of biofuel which are placed on the market (e.g. by fuel suppliers). In order to be issued certificates, compliance with strict sustainability criteria must be demonstrated. Two certificates are awarded for each litre of biofuel produced from specified sources (including wastes and residues) with one certificate awarded per litre biofuels produced from other sources (generally crops).
For each calendar year, a fuel supplier must hold sufficient biofuel obligation certificates to demonstrate compliance. The number of certificates required is determined by the biofuel obligation rate. The biofuel obligation rate is the number of biofuel certificates that must be held by each supplier in a given year as a percentage of the total transport fuel placed on the market in litres.
Since the start of 2019, the obligation rate is set at 10% by volume. This means that for every 90 litres of fossil-based road transport fuel placed on the market, 10 certificates must be held. This rate is set in legislation as 11.111% which is calculated as the number of certificates (i.e. 10) divided by the litres of fossil-based road transport fuel (i.e. 90).
From 1st January 2020, the obligation will increase to 11% by volume which is set in legislation as 12.359% corresponding to 11 certificates per 89 litres of fossil fuel.
The Biofuels Obligation Scheme Annual Report 2018, published in May 2019 reported that over 216 million litres of sustainable biofuels were placed on the Irish market. This was made up of approximately 162 million litres biodiesel (blended with diesel), 54 million litres of bioethanol (blended with gasoline) and half a million litres of bioLPG.
The recast Renewable Energy Directive was adopted in December 2018. This updates the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive for the period 2021 to 2030. The changes include a new target on all Member States of at least 14% renewable energy in transport by 2030. The recast Renewable Energy Directive also introduces a new sub-target for the deployment of advanced biofuel and, for sustainability reasons, limits the amount of energy which can be counted towards renewable energy targets in the transport sector for biofuels produced from specific feedstocks.