Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Association warns of endangered future for biofuels

Slovak Association for production and use of biofuels (ZVVB) believes that if new European Commission proposal for biofuels is applied in practice the whole EU will be sidelined in this perspective area. They consider it to be an ill-conceived experiment which will substantially hurt the whole biofuel industry.

On October 17 the EC published a proposal to limit global land conversion for biofuel production, and raise the climate benefits of biofuels used in the EU. The use of food-based biofuels to meet the 10 % renewable energy target of the Renewable Energy Directive should be limited to 5 %. The EC argues that it will stimulate the development of alternative, so-called second generation biofuels from non-food feedstock, like waste or straw, which emit less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels and do not directly interfere with global food production. 

Freeze of investments

„The problem is that we are not yet able to commercially produce these biofuels and it will definitely be true also in 2020,“ Robert Spisak, the chairman of the executive committee of the association said.

The association argues that investments in the current production will be frozen since the existing industry capacities are almost sufficient to meet the 5 % limit. “We are in danger that for this reason we will not fulfill the original target to have 10 % of bio component in every liter of petrol and diesel in 2020,” Spisak added. 

Food lobby?

Slovak biofuel association sees the EC step as a result of strong food industry lobby.

“Food producers are trying to justify the growing food prices by claiming that it is caused by increased consumption of agricultural products from biofuel producer´s side. That is not true,” Robert Spisak claims. 

The association calculated that in 2012 around 3 million tons of corn and 4.5 million tons of wheat are to be used for bioethanol production in the EU. In case of wheat it means 1.5 % of the total grain production.  They added that globally around 3 % of the total grain production is annually used for ethanol blending.

Food chamber reacts

Slovak Agricultural and Food Chamber (SPPK) reacted that the biofuel production does not represent a threat to food security for Slovakia neither for the EU.

Their press officer Stanislav Nemec explained that Slovakia has lost its food self-sufficiency in most products that used to be grown in the mild climate but not due to biofuels production. The changes recently accounced by the EC give the chamber an impression that the Union energy concept is not clear enough.

„We agree with the viewpoint of Slovak Association for production and use of biofuels that the commercial production of second generation biofuels is not likely to be secured as fast as to cover 5 % of the bio component blended in fossil fuels in 2020,” Stanislav Nemec added. 

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