Use of cleaner and alternative fuels
- The specifications for low-sulphur fuels (maximum of 50 ppm in 2005) are met in all EU-27 Member States. In 2006, there is already a significant share of zero-sulphur fuels in the EU as many Member States have introduced incentives to promote these fuels ahead of the mandatory deadline (maximum of 10 ppm in 2009).
- The penetration of biofuels is still relatively low, reaching 2.9 % in the EU-27 in 2007. However, this share has increased by almost 1 % from 2006 to 2007, in view of the 5.75 % objective for 2010.
Is EU's progress towards promoting cleaner and alternative fuels satisfactory?
Low and zero-sulphur fuel use (%)
Note: No data available for Bulgaria, Malta and Romania.
European Commission, 2008. Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union - Fifth annual report (Reporting year 2006) [COM(2008) 799].
Final energy consumption in the transport sector
Energy statistics (sirene), 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.
All member states have abandoned the sale of regular (350 ppm sulphur) petrol and diesel fuel. The combined penetration of low and zero-sulphur fuels in the EU-27 has reached 100 % in 2006, meaning that the specifications for petrol and diesel in 2005 are met.
In view of the 2009 (10 ppm) mandate, many Member States have introduced incentives to promote zero-sulphur fuels. Some member states (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary and Sweden) are already offering only zero-sulphur fuel. At the other end of the scale, some other member states (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Slovenia and the United Kingdom) do not yet offer zero-sulphur fuels in their markets.
The share of biofuels in the EEA-32 in 2007 was relatively low, accounting for 2.7 % of all petrol, diesel and biofuels sold for transport purposes. This share has almost quadrupled over the past four years; however more effort is needed to reach the 5.75 % objective by the end of 2010. Germany has by far the highest share (11 %) of biofuels sold in its market.
Indicator specification and metadata
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
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
- COM (2004) 310 final. Quality of gasoline & diesel fuel used for road transport in the EU - 1st annual report
COM(97) 599 final. Energy for the future.
Energy for the future: Renewable sources of energy. White Paper for a Community strategy and action plan. COM(97) 599 final.
- COM(2005) 69 final. Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union - Second annual report (Reporting year 2003)
- COM(2006) 186 final. Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union - Third annual report (Reporting year 2004)
- COM(2007) 617 final. Quality of petrol and diesel fuel used for road transport in the European Union - Fourth annual report (Reporting year 2005)
Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels
Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels, amended by Directive 2003/17/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 March 2003 [Official Journal L 76 of 22.03.2003]
It amends the Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels
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
DIRECTIVE 2009/30/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 23 April 2009 amending Directive 98/70/EC as regards the specification of petrol, diesel and gas-oil and introducing a mechanism to monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the specification of fuel used by inland waterway vessels and repealing Directive 93/12/EEC
REGULATION (EC) No 443/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL 443/2009
Regulation (ec) no 443/2009 of the European parliament and of the Council setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars as part of the community's integrated approach to reduce CO2 emissions from light-duty vehicles.
Strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, of 20 November 2002, "A European Union strategy to reduce atmospheric emissions from seagoing ships" [ COM (2002) 595 final, Volume I - Not published in the Official Journal].
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.
- Concepts used in Eurostat's Sirene database
- Eurostat's web page for data and metadata on transport statistics
- Concepts used in Eurostat's transport database
- Eurostat's web page for metadata on energy statistics
- Methodologies for estimating air pollutants from transport - Emissions factors for future road vehicles. Laboratory for Applied Thermodynamics (LAT). Thessaloniki, December 1998.
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.
Transport statistics - freight (Eurostat)
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 InfoCinzia Pastorello
EEA Management Plan2009 2.10.2 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
- 21 Apr 2009 - Use of cleaner and alternative fuels
- 03 Oct 2005 - Use of cleaner and alternative fuels
- 28 Aug 2003 - Uptake of cleaner and alternative fuels
- 01 Jun 2001 - Uptake of cleaner fuels and numbers of alternative-fuelled vehicles
- 01 Jun 2001 - Uptake of cleaner fuels and numbers of alternative-fuelled vehicles
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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