Use of cleaner and alternative fuels
- 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.
Is EU on track towards promoting cleaner and alternative fuels?
Low and zero-sulphur fuel use (%), EU-15
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).
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
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.
Indicator specification and metadata
Shares of renewable energy sources in transport. The ratio determining a Members State’s share of renewable energy in transport consumption (RES-T) is defined in the Article 3 (4) of the RES Directive.
For the calculation of the denominator, that is the total amount of energy consumed in transport, only petrol, diesel, biofuels consumed in road and rail transport, and electricity are taken into account.
For the calculation of the numerator, that is the amount of energy from renewable sources consumed in transport, all types of energy from renewable sources consumed in all forms of transport are taken into account.
For the calculation of the contribution from electricity produced from renewable sources and consumed in all types of electric vehicles for the purpose of the calculation of the numerator and denominator of the RES-T share, Member States may choose to use either the average share of electricity from renewable sources in the Community or the share of electricity from renewable energy sources in their own country as measured two years before the year in question. Furthermore, for the calculation of the electricity from renewable energy sources consumed by electric road vehicles, that consumption shall be considered to be 2.5 times the energy content of the input of electricity from renewable sources.
Final energy consumption of biofuels, petrol and diesel, and electricity for transport are measured in ktoes. The decision to use ktoe as the main calculation unit was made due to the choice of reporting units in the Template for Member State progress reports under Directive 2009/28/EC.
Policy context and targets
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.
The EU Biofuels Directive has created a legislative framework in Member States and has therefore triggered rapid market implementation of biofuels. The share of biofuels in the EU-28 in 2010 was 4.8% of all petrol and diesel sold for transport purposes, still somewhat below the original policy objective under Directive 2003/30/EC to reach 5.75% by the end of 2010. These targets were subsequently revised following the adoption of the Directive 2009/28/EC, subsequently amended in 2013 and in 2015, on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (repealing two previous Directives) the share of renewable energy use in transport rises to a minimum 10% in every Member State by 2020. The new directive on renewable energy also aims to ensure that only sustainable biofuels are used in the EU, which generate a clear and net GHG saving and have no negative impact on biodiversity and land use. Only biofuels complying with the sustainability criteria under the RED are to be counted towards this target and therefore proper monitoring is only possible from 2010. In addition, to stimulate the growth of certain shares of renewable energy sources in transport, renewable electricity in electric road vehicles is accounted for 2.5 times the energy content of the input of electricity from renewable energy sources, while the contribution of biofuels produced from wastes, residues, non-food cellulosic material, and ligno-cellulosic material is considered twice that of other biofuels. Nevertheless, the 10 % target is expected to be met primarily through biofuels.
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.
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
DIRECTIVE 2001/77/EC Renewable electricity
Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market
Directive 2003/30/EC, use of biofuels and renewable fuels
Promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport. Directive 2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003 on the promotion of the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels for transport.
DIRECTIVE 2009/28/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC
Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008 on energy statistics
Regulation (EC) No 1099/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on energy statistics (OJ 2008 L 304, p. 1).
Methodology for indicator calculation
The share of renewable energy sources in transport is calculated by dividing the renewable energy consumption by the total energy consumption including petrol and diesel.
The ratio determining a Member State’s RES-T share is defined in the Article 3(4) of the RES Directive, where for the calculation of the denominator, the consumption of petrol for transport, diesel for transport, biofuels used in road and rail transport and electricity in any mode of transport are taken into account. For the numerator, compliant biofuels (liquid and gaseous) in all modes of transport and where applicable with the respective multiplier (2x) as defined in Article 21(2), renewable electricity in transport with the respective multiplier (2.5x) for road transport, hydrogen of renewable origin in all modes of transport and other forms of renewable energy consumed in the transport sector are taken into account as well.
Methodology for gap filling
No gap-filling is applied.
- SHARES Tool Manual Shares Tool Manual: Describes the Shares Tool that is designed to collect and present the information – the energy data – that are needed for the calculations as defined in Article 3 (transport sector) and Article 5 (overall target) of the Directive.
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.
Share of energy from renewable sources
provided by Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat)
Transport (Primary topic)
Typology: Policy-effectiveness indicator (Type D)
- CSI 037
- TERM 031
Contacts and ownership
EEA Contact InfoDiana Vedlugaite
EEA Management Plan2010 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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