The European Court of Auditors (ECA) has highlighted critical issues with the European Union’s biofuel promotion policy. The report identifies three main concerns; environmental impact, the economic viability and competition and uncertainty.
Firstly, while promoted as sustainable alternatives, biofuels often have overestimated environmental benefits. Production can involve deforestation or land competition with food crops, raising ethical concerns and potentially negating their environmental advantages.
The second issue is that biofuels remain significantly more expensive than fossil fuels, hindering their widespread adoption. Additionally, reliance on imports like used cooking oil from distant countries raises questions about the policy’s effectiveness in achieving energy independence.
Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Estonia’s representative at the ECA, said: “The European Commission has worked on the assumption that biofuels will help to raise energy independence, but in actuality, dependence on other countries has increased – for instance as evidenced by the importing of used cooking oil from China and Malaysia.”
Finally, biofuels compete for resources with various sectors, including food, cosmetics, and bioplastics. Frequent policy changes and a lack of a long-term plan create investor uncertainty, further slowing the development and adoption of advanced biofuels.
Despite mandatory targets for renewable energy use in transport, most EU countries failed to achieve the 10% target for 2020, largely due to reliance on biofuels. This raises questions about the overall effectiveness and sustainability of the current policy.