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Use of cleaner and alternative fuels (CSI 037/TERM 031) - Assessment published Oct 2005

Indicator Assessment Created 19 May 2005 Published 03 Oct 2005 Last modified 13 Dec 2013, 09:17 AM
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Generic metadata


Transport Transport (Primary topic)

csi | transport
DPSIR: Response
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 037
  • TERM 031
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Key policy question: Is EU's progress towards promoting cleaner and alternative fuels satisfactory?

Key messages

  • Many Member States have introduced incentives to promote the use of low and zero-sulphur fuels ahead of the mandatory deadlines (a maximum of 50 ppm "low" in 2005 and a maximum of 10 ppm "zero" in 2009). The combined penetration increased from around 20 to almost 50% between 2002 and 2003, but this is still some way off the 2005 target of 100%.
  • The penetration of biofuels and other alternative fuels is low. The share of biofuels in the EU-25 is less than 0.4 %, still far off the 2 % target set for 2005. However, following the adoption of the Biofuels Directive in 2003, national initiatives are rapidly changing the situation.

Low and zero-sulphur fuel use (%), EU-15

Note: N/A

Data source:

European Commission, 2005. Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union: Second annual report (Reporting year 2003). Report from the Commission (COM (2005) 69 final).

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Share of biofuels in transport fuels (%)

Note: The Biofuels Directive aims at promoting the use of biofuels for transport to replace diesel or petrol

Data source:


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Final energy consumption in the transport sector

Note: By 2002, only a few EU countries had consumption of biofuels or were reporting consumption of biofuels to Eurostat

Data source:


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Key assessment

A reduction in the sulphur content of petrol and diesel fuels is expected to have a large impact on exhaust emissions as it will enable the introduction of more sophisticated after-treatment systems. In view of the 2005 (50 ppm) and 2009 (10 ppm) mandates, many Member States have introduced incentives to promote these fuels. However, the capacity of refineries to supply the fuels affects the time it takes for them to penetrate the market.

The combined share of low and zero-sulphur petrol and diesel in the EU-15 in 2003 was 49% and 45% respectively, with a nearly equal split between low and zero-sulphur fuels. Compared with the 2002 figures of around 20%, these fuels have seen significant growth. If this continues at the same pace, both the 2005 and the 2009 targets are within reach. Many countries have abandoned the sale of regular (350 ppm sulphur) petrol and diesel fuel. In particular, Germany leads the way by being the only country offering only zero-sulphur fuel. At the other end of the scale, four countries (France, Italy, Portugal and Spain) do not yet offer low or zero-sulphur fuels in their markets.

Assessment of the market penetration of biofuels is hampered by incomplete datasets, as not all countries have yet set up reporting for this. Based on the available data, the share of biofuels in the EU-25 in 2002 was still low, accounting for 0.34% of all petrol and diesel sold for transport purposes (reported biofuels consumption as a percentage of total gasoline and diesel consumption). This share has more than doubled over the past eight years; however more effort is needed to reach the 2% and 5.75% objectives by the end of 2005 and 2010 respectively. France and Germany have the highest shares of biofuels sold in their markets.

Following the adoption of the biofuels directive in 2003, member states are required to develop plans for market introduction of biofuels and report annually to the European Commission. Most of the plans submitted so far contain national targets somewhat below the indicative targets set in the Directive, but given the short lead time from adoption (summer 2003) to the first target year (2005) this was to be expected. The real test for the resolve to increase the market shares of biofuels will be the initiatives and targets to reported in 2005 and 2006.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello


EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)


Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year in October-December (Q4)
Filed under: ,


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100