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Q&A: Ucome needs EU advanced biofuel label

8 Feb 2018, 11.38 am GMT

Q&A: Ucome needs EU advanced biofuel label: Correction

Corrects current production figure in last paragraph.

Brussels, 8 February (Argus) — European Waste to Advance Biofuels association (EWABA) secretary general Angel Alvarez Alberdi says that negotiations later this month between the European Parliament and EU member states over the final text of revised renewables legislation should clarify the role of used cooking oil methyl ester (Ucome) as an advanced biofuel. Alvarez Alberdi spoke to Argus.

Does it matter whether or not Ucome is considered advanced?

Advanced biofuel is a brand. Biodiesels with the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) savings should get the label when waste-based, sustainable and not sourced from food crops. Ucome should have that same recognition.

Would the advanced biofuel label lead to greater state support?

There are currently three drafts of the future renewables directive, from Parliament, Commission and the council that is the EU member states. All these drafts promote Ucome, whether or not it is considered an advance biofuel. But there are a number of specific biofuel feedstocks listed that are both advanced but in the early stages of development. These feedstocks have not yet been widely commercialised.

Do both parliament and EU member states view Ucome as an advanced biofuel?

Talks between Parliament, Council and the commission on the final text will start later this month. If the parliament's draft definition makes it to the final legal text, then Ucome will be clearly considered advanced. Aside from that, there are various criteria to establish whether a biofuel is advanced or not. Ucome scores high: it is waste-based with the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) savings and it is not food or feed-sourced. On top of that, there is no indirect land use change (ILUC). When you take these facts into account you have to consider Ucome as advanced.

What about EU member states or the council?

Several member states are very happy with Parliament's definition. And we are very hopeful that Parliament's clearer definition will make it to the final legislation and clearly define Ucome as an advanced biofuel.

Is it a disaster if EU legislation does not clearly define Ucome as advanced?

It would be a missed opportunity to recognise one of the best performing alternative fuels. But it will not strongly effect demand. Many member states rely on Ucome to meet targets for renewable energy in the transport sector. Currently, Ucome is the alternative fuel in commercial use that has the highest GHG savings.

The sub-target for advanced biofuels creates a reserved space for fuels that need additional development and protection. We are happy with that. These fuels need protection to reach commercial quantities. This sub-target is included within a broader incorporation obligation for fuel suppliers to be taken up by Ucome, Tallow Methyl Ester (TME), renewable electricity, biogas and so on.

How positive will the renewables legislation be for waste-based biodiesels?

On the positive side, there are higher targets proposed by both the council and the parliament. There is greater flexibility for member states. Parliament and member states have deleted or blurred the commission's proposed limitation on biofuel feedstocks. But there are concerns. A five-fold multiplying factor for electricity used in road transport, as proposed by the council, is not justified. Double counting of electricity in transport would be more reasonable. You may push out other alternative clean fuels like Ucome.

What growth potential do you see up to 2030?

There has been continuous growth over the past six years. We are completely confident that this will continue. Currently, we reached 2.7mn tonnes with Ucome and TME. This could double by 2030.

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