Biofuel changes reduce carbon emissions by over 380 kg every hour

In Environment, News, Posts by Topic by Denis Naughten

Level of biofuel in fuel mix increased from 8% to 10% 

I welcome the implementation by Government of my decision to increase the biofuel mix in petrol and diesel by one quarter from 1st January, which will see 380kg/hour less carbon being released into our atmosphere.

This measure is one of a number of ways that we can support the uptake of more renewable energy and there is a further opportunity to significantly increase the use of biofuels in diesel, but it requires the support of the road transport fuel industry.

There is an opportunity to develop HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oil) as a replacement for diesel used in this country but it does require the fuel industry to come on board either voluntarily or through regulation.

The big advantage with this fuel is that it does not require an alteration to diesel engines and can be manufactured from wastes such as cooking oil and tallow (rendered animal fat) from the meat industry. Presently, there is a shortage of manufacturing capacity throughout Europe and industry would need to come on board to make the product for the Irish market.

The Government’s Climate Action Fund, which I established as Minister, is a possible route to assist with the cost of establishing a manufacturing facility in Ireland which would reduce our dependence on imported diesel as well as using up wastes such as cooking oil & tallow.

Background

  • In April of this year, as Minister, I published a Biofuels Obligation Scheme Policy Statement  which set out actions to be implemented including increases to the biofuel obligation in 2019 and 2020.
  • Biofuels are renewable transport fuels produced from biomass material. They can be manufactured from a wide range of materials including sugarcane, wheat and corn, and also from waste materials such as plant oils and animals fats. Types of biofuels available include bioethanol (which can be blended with petrol) and biodiesel.
  • The Biofuel Obligation Scheme was established in 2010 and has become a key pillar of Ireland’s energy policy.  The scheme operates by placing a mandatory obligation which is termed the biofuel ‘obligation rate’ on suppliers of road transport fuels to ensure that a proportion of the fuels they place on the Irish market are produced from renewable sources.
  • Fuel suppliers can meet their obligation in two ways. They can place the biofuel on the market themselves or can purchase certificates from companies that sell biofuels to market. Certificates are awarded on the basis of 2 certificates per litre of sustainable biofuel if that biofuel is produced from wastes or residues or 1 certificate per litre for all other sustainable biofuels. All biofuels must meet strict sustainability criteria to qualify for certificates.
  • In 2017, a total of 225 million litres of biofuel (167 million litres biodiesel, 58 million litres bioethanol) were placed on the Irish market. All of the biodiesel placed on the Irish market was produced from feedstocks classified as wastes or residues such as used cooking oil and tallow (waste from the meat processing industry).
  • The biofuels obligation rate has increased from an initial level of 4% by volume to the current level of 8% by volume. From January 2019, the obligation rate will increase to 10% by volume and, based on today’s announcement, is planned to further increase to 11% by volume from January 2020. It should be noted that an obligation of 11% by volume means that for every 89 litres of fossil fuel that is placed on the road transport market, an obligated party must have 11 certificates. The legislative requirement is therefore 12.359% (11 divided by 89).
  • The adoption of biofuels provides a range of benefits that includes reducing Ireland’s dependency on fossil fuels and ensuring that a proportion of the transport fuel used in Ireland consists of environmentally sustainable fuels that lower greenhouse gas emissions.