Concawe predicts that EU renewable fuel targets will not be met by 2020

Concawe’s Heather Hamje, science executive for fuels and emissions, presented an outlook of future fuels in a low greenhouse gas (GHG) environment in the European Union (EU) and an overview of the European regulatory environment at the UNITI Mineral Oil Technology Conference in Stuttgart, Germany, yesterday. Concawe is the research arm of the European oil refining industry.

Hamje said that refined oil product demand in the EU is projected to decline by 160 million tonnes between 2005 and 2030. This figure is equivalent to six of Europe’s largest refineries or 30 of its smallest, she said. This could mean further refinery closures in Europe in the future.

“A major reason for that is the penetration of alternative fuels [biodiesel and ethanol],” Hamje said.

The data she presented came from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission.

Middle distillates make up the bulk of European fuel demand, she said. In fact, the EU continues to have a surplus supply of gasoline and a deficit of diesel fuel supply. Demand for total distillate products, including jet fuel, is expected to grow, whereas demand for gasoline and heavy fuels is expected to continue to decline.

Hamje concluded, “We think that fossil fuels are going to dominate mainstream road transport for some time to come, but we do see that vehicles are going to improve, and we are going to see, we think, diversification of the on-road fleet.”

Original Equipment Manufacturers and oil companies will have to work together, taking an integrative approach to make sure that fuels and vehicles are compatible, she said.

In her discussion of EU’s regulatory environment, she discussed the Renewable Energy Directive or RED, which requires that EU member-states use renewable energy sources for 10% of its transport sector energy needs by 2020. To meet this directive, each country is allowed to set its own targets. It also requires the sustainable cultivation and production of biofuels as well as minimum GHG savings per energy unit.

However, Hamje said that this target, along with the Fuel Quality Directive (FPD), which requires fuel suppliers to achieve at least 6% greenhouse gas (GHG) savings from fuels supplied by 2020, is not likely to be met.

JRC, using data gathered from external sources, predicted the supply of advanced biofuel until 2020. Said Hamje, “It’s growing, but it’s still not really enough. The total worldwide supply is expected to be about nine megatonnes, about half of that the European supply.”

Moving beyond 2010’s GHG levels, Hamje said, is going to require increasing hybridisation. The use of alternative fuels and vehicles, she said, will require cooperation from policymakers, to make sure that the investment infrastructure is in place.

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