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Use of cleaner and alternative fuels

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Justification for indicator selection

EU legislation has set requirements for the sulphur content of fuels, as well as the minimum share of biofuels in its total fuel consumption. Thus, this indicator has been selected to follow the above policy issues by monitoring the progress achieved.

Sulphur-free fuels (<10 ppm) will enable the further decrease of pollutant emissions from road vehicles, while the promotion of biofuels is essential for reducing greenhouse gases and especially CO2.

Scientific references:

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

Shares of sulphur-free fuels (<10 ppm), and biofuels in total fuel consumption by road transport (in percentage of fuels sold for road transport purposes). The shares of low and zero sulphur petrol and diesel are calculated by dividing the consumption of each fuel by the total fuel consumption of petrol and diesel respectively. The share of biofuels is based on their energy content and is thus calculated by dividing the energy consumption of biofuels by the energy consumption of all petrol and diesel sold for transport purposes.


Petrol and diesel fuels are measured in millions of liters and presented as shares of regular, <50 ppm sulphur and <10 ppm sulphur, respectively.

Final energy consumption of biofuels, diesel and gasoline for transport are measured in Terajoules net calorific values (NCV) and presented as a percentage of biofuels to the sum of all three fuels.

Table: nrg_102a, unit: 1000toe Thousands tons of oil equivalent (TOE), tj_ncv Terajoules (Net calorific value = NCV), indic_en: 101900 Final energy consumption – Transport, product:, 3230 Motor Spirit, 3260 Gas / Diesel Oil

Table: nrg_1073a, unit: tj_ncv Terajoules (Net calorific value = NCV), indic_en: 101900 Final energy consumption – Transport, product: 5545 Biofuels

Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2009, Directive 2009/30/EC was adopted which revises the Fuel Quality Directive [Directive 98/70/EC]. It amends a number of elements of the petrol and diesel specifications as well as introducing in Article 7a a requirement on fuel suppliers to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of energy supplied for road transport (Low Carbon Fuel Standard). Fuel suppliers must reduce emissions by 6-10 % by 2020 (relative to 2010 fossil fuels). In addition the Directive establishes sustainability criteria that must be met by biofuels if they are to count towards the greenhouse gas intensity reduction obligation. Progress against the FQD target will be evaluated once annual progress reporting begins in 2012.

The Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EC (that repeals the previous 2003/30/EC) establishes a common framework for the promotion of energy from renewable sources. Under this directive, the share of renewable in transport rises to a minimum 10 % in every Member State in 2020. The new directive on renewable energy also aims to ensure that as we expand the use of biofuels in the EU we use only sustainable biofuels, which generate a clear and net GHG saving and have no negative impact on biodiversity and land use.

Member States are required to report to the Commission annually on (1) the measures taken to promote the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels to replace diesel or petrol for transport purposes, (2) the national resources allocated to the production of biomass for energy uses other than transport, and (3) the total sales of transport fuel and the share of biofuels, pure or blended, and other renewable fuels placed on the market for the preceding year.


EU legislation requires the reduction of the sulphur content of fuels to below 10 mg/kg (zero sulphur fuels) by 2009. This Directive 2009/28 requires that by 2020 the EU’s fuel consumption should have a 10 % share of renewables in the transport sector.

The Renewable Energy Directive (RED, 2009/28/EC) set a target for all Member States to reach a 10 % share of renewable energy in transport by 2020.

The White Paper (EC, 2011) provides objectives for decarbonising transport fuels in aviation and shipping, i.e.: “Low carbon sustainable fuels in aviation to reach 40 % by 2050; also by 2050 reduce emissions from maritime bunker fuels by 40 % (if feasible 50 %) compared to 2005 levels.” In both sectors it would be anticipated that the majority of these targets would need to be met through the utilisation of sustainable biofuels.

Related policy documents


Methodology for indicator calculation

The shares of low and zero sulphur petrol and diesel (in percentage) are calculated by dividing the consumption of each fuel (in tonnes) by the total fuel consumption of petrol and diesel respectively.

The share of biofuels (in percentage) is based on their energy content and is thus calculated by dividing its energy consumption (in tonnes of oil equivalent) by total energy consumption including petrol and diesel.

Methodology for gap filling

The final energy consumption time series contains an extrapolation to the latest available year (2010). The primary Eurostat dataset does not extend to 2010, so an extrapolation was made based on Eurostat monthly data on supply and transformation of oil-based products. The following assumptions were used:

  • Maritime bunker final energy consumption was assumed to correlate with internal market deliveries of maritime bunker fuels;
  • Road transport final energy consumption was assumed to correlate with an energy-weighted combination of internal market deliveries of motor gasoline and transport diesel;
  • Aviation final energy consumption was assumed to correlate with internal market deliveries of kerosene – jet fuel.

Using these assumptions, final energy consumption in 2010 was extrapolated by the formula:

[Final energy consumption 2010] = [Final energy consumption 2009] * [Internal market deliveries 2010] / [Internal market deliveries 2009]

For other modes, final energy consumption was assumed to remain a constant in proportion to the sum of the above three modes. It is recognised that this is a very crude assumption, however the remaining modes account for less than 5% of the total final energy consumption in all recent years.

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sets uncertainty

The data are collected on an annual basis by the European Commission and can thus be considered reliable and accurate. The requirement for the data collection for low and zero sulphur fuels and biofuels is mandatory and thus the results are harmonised at the EU level.

Rationale uncertainty


Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

Work description

Recent changes: Compared to last year the indicator on biofuels now includes almost all EEA member countries (except Liechtenstein). Also, the indicator on cleaner fuels now includes all EU-27, compared to EU-15 reported previously. Planned changes: For the medium-term plans, information about share of renewables used in the generation of electricity would be useful to assess the uptake of “cleaner fuels” by trains and electric cars. Furthermore, information on the quality of fuels used for shipping (both inland and maritime) and aviation is needed to provide a full picture of progress made in cleaner fuel use in the whole transport sector. The indicator should somehow reflect the influence of the amended Fuel Quality Directive (FQD, 2009/30/EC) for which Member States are required to report on the lifecycle GHG intensity of road transport fuels. Efforts on indicating the performance with respect to meeting biofuels sustainability criteria/targets should also be placed. It will also be important to include the uptake of second generation of biofuels when applicable.

Resource needs

Budgetary, technical, resource or scientific needs: In order to improve the quality of the indicator, further technical (in particularly data) resources on non-road transport are needed.


In progress


2015/12/31 00:00:00 GMT+1

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello


European Environment Agency (EEA)


Indicator code
CSI 037
TERM 031
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Transport Transport


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Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)


DPSIR: Response
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)

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