Here’s an update on recent news items and other public policy developments in recent weeks relating to the development and commercialization of renewable fuels around the world.
European Parliament continues debate on RED revisions and indirect land use change. As debate on the proposed revisions to the Renewable Energy Directive continued in the EU Parliament Environment Committee in May, it is clear that member states are divided on aspects of the proposal, particularly regarding the approach to indirect land use changes (ILUC). While some member states strongly support the inclusion of ILUC in calculating the carbon intensity of fuels under the policy, the representatives of other nations question whether such calculations are exact enough to be used in this way. The Environment Committee is scheduled to vote on the proposal on July 10, with a vote by the full Parliament expected in November.
The opposing sides of this debate seem to mirror two competing proposals from EU Parliament Committees for how the proposed October 2012 revision should be amended. The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, in a Draft Report issued April 15, recommended mandatory accounting for ILUC as a means to promote use of biofuels having a more favorable carbon intensity, although it also recommended a “grandfathered” grace period for current producers of biodiesel. The Rapporteur for this Committee is Corinne Lepage, a liberal French MEP who also led the recent Parliamentary debate mentioned above. Several weeks earlier, however, the Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (known by the acronym ITRE) published a Draft Opinion on March 28, which suggested a different approach. This Committee proposed eliminating all references to ILUC in the RED revision, stating that ILUC calculations were based on “imprecise” science. The ITRE Committee also proposed that the use of advanced biofuels be promoted through mandatory targets of 2% usage by 2020 and 4% usage by 2025, in lieu of the double or quadruple counting for such fuels that was proposed in October. The ITRE approach has generally been supported by European industry groups, including the Renewable Energy Association, ePURE, and the recently-formed group Leaders of Sustainable Biofuels.
Challenges to EU ethanol anti-dumping duty. The U.S. trade groups Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association filed a complaint with the General Court in Luxembourg challenging the duty on U.S.-produced fuel ethanol that was recently imposed by the European Union. This followed action in late April by a bipartisan group of 14 U.S. senators recommending that the U.S. ask the World Trade Organization to challenge this duty.
Alleged circumvention of EU ethanol import duty. The European trade association ePURE has asked the European Commission to investigate a situation where U.S. ethanol is possibly being imported into Finland as a blend of 8% gasoline/92% ethanol, as a means to avoid the anti-dumping duty that the EC has imposed on U.S-produced bioethanol.
EU Biodiesel investigations of imports from Argentina and Indonesia. The EU, which has instituted both anti-subsidy and anti-dumping inquiries against biodiesel imports from these countries, and has been registering imports from certain Argentine and Indonesian companies under the anti-dumping inquiry, has now reportedly decided to impose anti-dumping duties on imports from these countries. Reports on May 17 indicated that the European Commission has set provisional tariffs at between 7 and 11 per cent for imports from Argentina and between zero and 10 per cent for those from Indonesia. Following two days of talks with EU officials in late April, the Indonesian government is reportedly considering a complaint to the World Trade Organization if the EU follows through with these tariffs. More recently, Argentina has in fact already filed such a complaint with the WTO, in the latest installment of that country’s running battle with the EU over biodiesel imports into Europe. Argentina had previously launched a complaint against Spain’s biodiesel policies, but dropped the complaint when Spain changed its policies.
It has been reported that the leaders of the G8 nations are under increasing pressure to revise biofuel mandates in view of the alleged impacts of biofuel development on global food prices. Calls to revise the mandates come as the UK plans to hold a global meeting on nutrition and food a week prior to the general G8 meeting being held in Northern Ireland in June.
It has been reported that 41% of Canada’s ethanol mandate is being met by cornstarch ethanol made in the United States. Canada’s federal E5 mandate, enacted to stimulate domestic ethanol production, requires 2.2 billion liters of ethanol to be blended into gasoline each year, but 2012 imports of U.S. ethanol reportedly totaled 893 million liters.
Biofuels Digest reports that the South African government is finally moving forward on the implementation of legislation for E2 and B5 blends for ethanol and biodiesel, respectively, for implementation later this year along with a proposed incentive scheme said to be unveiled by the end of June.
In Zimbabwe, the government has decided to take control over the Green Fuel ethanol facility, a controversial project that earlier this year was restarted after a long shutdown, following the government’s decision to adopt a policy of mandatory blending of ethanol into gasoline.
Although Nepal instituted a 10% ethanol blending mandate in 2004, this policy is reportedly unimplemented because the country’s sole ethanol plant has never commenced commercial operations.
Shell has begun sales of E20 ethanol/gasoline blends in Thailand.
Previous Biofuel Policy Watch posts on international biofuel news:
- International Biofuel News, May 6, 2013
- International Biofuel News, April 3, 2013
- International Biofuel News, March 6, 2013
- Biodiesel News (and international biodiesel mandates), March 5, 2013
- The Proposed EU Trade Action Against US Ethanol, January 29, 2013
- International Ethanol Mandates, January 25, 2013
- The Proposed Revision to the EU RED, January 22, 2013
D. Glass Associates, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in government and regulatory support for renewable fuels and industrial biotechnology. David Glass, Ph.D. is a veteran of over thirty years in the biotechnology industry, with expertise in industrial biotechnology regulatory affairs, U.S. and international renewable fuels regulation, patents, technology licensing, and market and technology assessments. Dr. Glass also serves as director of regulatory affairs for Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. More information on D. Glass Associates’ government and regulatory consulting capabilities, and copies of some of Dr. Glass’s prior presentations on biofuels and biotechnology regulation, are available at www.slideshare.net/djglass99 and at www.dglassassociates.com. The views expressed in this blog are those of Dr. Glass and D. Glass Associates and do not represent the views of Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc. or any other organization with which Dr. Glass is affiliated. Please visit our other blog, Advanced Biotechnology for Biofuels.