Friday, April 13, 2018

UK Government Aims to Upscale Biofuel Use in Road Haulage and Air Freight and Passenger Movements

New Targets Come Into Force This Week
Shipping News Feature
UK – New biofuel targets coming into force on April 15 aims to see the use of renewable fuels in the UK's transport industry double within 15 years, cutting the sector's reliance on imported diesel. The Government is set to introduce changes to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) which it hopes will compel owners of transport fuel, mainly to road haulage operators and air freight and passenger carriers, who supply at least 450,000 litres a year or more, to make sure the mix is at least 12.4% biofuel by 2032.

Currently the industry, which supplies fuel to a range of transport companies, is only expected to meet a target of 4.75% biofuel. The key changes to the scheme are:

  • increasing the biofuels volume target from the current 4.75% to 9.75% in 2020, and 12.4% in 2032
  • setting an additional target for advanced waste-based renewable fuels, starting at 0.1% in 2019 and rising to 2.8% in 2032
  • setting a sustainable level for crop biofuels, an initial maximum cap of 4% of fuel in 2018, reducing annually from 2021 to reach 3% in 2026 and 2% in 2032
  • bringing renewable aviation fuels and renewable fuels of non-biological origin into the scheme.
Commenting on the changes, Transport Minister Jesse Norman said:

“We are committed to reducing carbon emissions from transport to tackle climate change, and to making the sector as sustainable as possible. Increasing our use of renewable fuels is a key part of this. The changes we are introducing will double our carbon emissions savings from the RTFO scheme by doubling the use of renewable fuels and reducing reliance on imported fossil diesel. This will deliver emissions savings equal to taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road.”

The changes to the RTFO scheme will also reward and support the production of sustainable renewable aviation fuels in the UK. The government says that it is also challenging the sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% by 2020, which coupled with the RTFO changes should support the UK’s low carbon fuel industry while helping make sure the UK transport sector is one of the most sustainable in the world. Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of the International Airline Group (IAG), said:

“Providing sustainable fuel production for aircraft with the same economic incentives given to road vehicles is long overdue. This is a major step forward to help the UK aviation industry meet its carbon reduction targets. These incentives have enabled alternative fuel sources to be developed for cars and lorries, while aviation has traditionally been heavily dependent on fossil fuels. This government initiative will support our plans to build Europe’s first waste to jet biofuel plant in Britain, creating UK jobs and growth.”

The majority of the biofuel used in the UK comes from waste. By introducing new targets, the RTFO promotes the development of cutting edge technologies to turn waste into valuable low carbon fuels. Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, commented:

“We welcome the increased targets for renewable transport fuels and are excited by the new regulations which will encourage the production of novel fuels for hard-to-decarbonise sectors. The UK’s renewable fuels have excellent environmental credentials and their manufacture supports almost 1,000 direct jobs, many of which are in the north-east. As transport is now the UK’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and air quality concerns are growing, this makes the transition to a cleaner system an imperative.”

The changes are in addition to the £22 million of government funding available to industry to develop waste-based advanced low carbon fuels in the UK for aviation and freight. The new RTFO will contribute a third of the total savings from transport for the UK’s carbon budget.

Historically the supply of biofuels has been shrouded in controversy with accusations of crops grown purely for fuel being a wasteful alternative to edible alternatives. Even producing energy from waste has been under scrutiny so it will be interesting to see how things develop. Whilst road haulage has its eye fairly firmly on electricity as a source of motive power the torque supplied by a traditional compression or internal combustion engine is hard to replicate.

As a contrary argument biofuels are also bound to produce variable emissions, again a subject which is emotive and currently witnessing sectors of the industry having limits imposed upon it in the form of international agreements and urban taxes.