Biofuels for transport

By 2020, alternative fuel, like biofuel, will make up at least 10% of all fuel used for transport. This has been agreed by the member states of the European Union.

Types of biofuel

Biofuel is made from biomass. There are different types of biofuel, like biodiesel, bioethanol, biogas and biobutanol.

Biofuels are made from plant material or organic waste:

  • Biofuels from plant material

    Most biofuels are made from plant material, like palm oil, rapeseed, sugar cane, maize and other grains. These raw materials often come from tropical countries, and their production may come at the cost of food crops.
  • Biofuels from organic waste

    Biofuels can also be made from waste, such as agricultural waste, used frying fat, woodchips or algae. This does not take up any extra agricultural land.

Rules on biofuel sustainability

The European Union wants manufacturers to produce sustainable biofuels. This is set out in the EU Renewable Energy Directive. Central government therefore requires imported biofuels to meet the following criteria:

  • Biofuels must not be grown in areas with high biodiversity, like rainforests and protected nature areas.
  • Biofuels must not be grown on drained peatlands.
  • Biofuels must not be grown in areas that hold a lot of CO2, like primeval forests, peatlands and grassland.
  • Biofuels must not produce too much CO2 over their entire lifecycle, from the planting of crops to the burning of fuel in vehicles. By 2018, CO2 emissions from biofuel must be at least 60% lower than emissions from fossil fuels.

Introducing biofuel

The EU countries have agreed that by 2020 at least 10% of all fuel must be alternative fuel.

Companies that deliver fuel to filling stations mix small amounts of biofuel through their petrol or diesel. Bioethanol (E85), for instance, is a blend of up to 85% ethanol and at least 15% petrol. This blend can be used in specially adapted cars. Several car manufacturers sell cars in the Netherlands that can run on E85. Some airlines are already flying on biokerosene, which is derived from plant material and animal fats.

Fuel suppliers must offer biofuels

Fuel suppliers must market a certain amount of biofuels every year. They must also report the quantities to the Dutch Emissions Authority (NEA) annually. If they do not meet the norm, they are fined under the Renewable Energy (Transport) Order. The aim is for 10% of all transport fuel to be alternative fuel by 2020. The biofuel share is already 5%.

Some fuel suppliers market less biofuel than they should. They can still meet the norm by buying other companies' surplus in the form of biotickets.

Certification of sustainable bioenergy

Producers of sustainable bioenergy can have their products certified by joining the European Commission’s certification system. They then receive a green label, similar to the label for sustainable timber.