Use of cleaner and alternative fuels
- Many Member States have introduced incentives to promote low and zero sulphur fuels towards the objective of reducing the sulphur content of fuels to a maximum of 50 ppm by 2005 and to a maximum of 10 ppm by 2009. Although the target for 2005 has been achieved, the penetration of zero sulphur fuels in view of the 2009 target is still rather low. 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.
- The penetration of biofuels is also low. The share of biofuels in the EU-27 in 2005 was about 1%, i.e. half of the 2% target. However, this share has increased rapidly to 3.4% in 2008, in view of the 5.75% objective for 2010.
Is the EU on track towards the promotion of cleaner and alternative fuels?
Low and zero-sulphur fuel use in the EU
Note: The graph shows share of low and zero sulphur fuels (petrol and diesel) in the EU and Switzerland in 2007.
European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/air/transport/pdf/fqm_summary_2007.pdf
Final energy consumption in the transport sector in EEA
Note: This table shows final energy consumption from petrol, diesel and biofuels in the EEA countries in 1995, 2000 and 2008. Fuel shares in final energy consumption are also shown for the same fuel types.
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
The share of biofuels in the EU-27 in 2008 was rather low, accounting for 3.4 % of all petrol and diesel sold for transport purposes (reported biofuels consumption as a percentage of total petrol and diesel consumption). This share has more than tripled over the past three years; however more effort is needed to reach the 5.75 % objective by the end of 2010. Austria, Germany, France and Slovakia have the highest shares of biofuels sold in their markets, having already reached the 2010 target.
The EU Biofuels Directive has lead to the creation of favourable legislative frameworks in most Member States and has therefore triggered rapid market implementation of biofuels. By now all Member States have set national targets, most of them aiming for the proposed 5.75 % market share by 2010 or earlier. France has set a higher target of 7 %, whereas the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia and the United Kingdom have set lower targets for 2010 (5.55 %, 2.5 %, 5 % and 3.5 % respectively). Germany has set different targets for ethanol and biodiesel (3.6 % and 6.17 % respectively). Each EU Member State has to send annual reports to the EC, stating the implemented measures, the annual biofuel production and the market share achieved.
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. Although sulphur reduction is mainly aimed at long-term durability and fuel efficiency with advanced aftertreatment systems, such as NOx storage catalysts and diesel particulate filters, short-term effects are also important in view of the potential impact on the existing vehicle fleet.
With the latest addition of Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, all EU 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 2007, 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, Netherlands and Sweden) are already offering only zero-sulphur fuel. At the other end of the scale, some other member states (Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia) do not yet offer zero-sulphur fuels in their markets.
Indicator specification and metadata
The ratio determining a Members State’s share of renewable energy in transport consumption (RES-T) is defined in Article 3 (4) of the RES Directive.
The denominator of the ratio, i.e. the total amount of energy consumed in transport, is calculated using only petrol, diesel, biofuels consumed in road and rail transport, and electricity.
For numerator of the ratio, i.e. the amount of energy from renewable sources consumed in transport, all types of energy from renewable sources consumed in all forms of transport are considered.
To calculate the numerator and denominator of the share of RES-T, the contribution of electricity produced from renewable sources and consumed in all types of electric vehicles is used. 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 electricity input from renewable sources.
Final energy consumption of biofuels, petrol and diesel, and electricity for transport are measured in kilotonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). 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 revised 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 EU Member States and has therefore triggered rapid market availability of biofuels. In 2010, the share of biofuels in the EU-28 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 Directive 2009/28/EC - which was subsequently amended in 2013 and again in 2015 - on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (repealing two previous Directives). The revision sees the share of renewable energy to be used in transport rising to a minimum 10 % in every Member State by 2020. The new directive on renewable energy also aims to ensure that only sustainable biofuels that generate a clear and net greenhouse gas saving and have no negative impact on biodiversity and land use are used in the EU. Only biofuels that comply with the sustainability criteria under the Renewable Energy Directive 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 considered to be 2.5 times the energy content of the electricity input from renewable energy sources. Similarly, the contribution of biofuels produced from wastes, residues, non-food cellulosic material, and ligno-cellulosic material is considered to be 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 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: “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 is 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 renewable energy consumption by total energy consumption, including petrol and diesel.
The ratio determining a Member State’s RES-T share is defined in Article 3 (4) of the RES Directive, where, for the calculation of the denominator, the consumption of petrol and diesel for transport, biofuels used in road and rail transport, and electricity used in any mode of transport are taken into account. For the numerator, compliant biofuels (liquid and gaseous) used in all modes of transport, and employing the respective multipliers where applicable (2x renewable electricity in transport and 2.5x for road transport as defined in Article 21(2)), plus hydrogen of renewable origin in all modes of transport and other forms of renewable energy consumed in the transport sector are also taken into account.
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 is 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 be considered reliable and accurate. The requirement for data collection for low- and zero-sulphur fuels and biofuels is mandatory, and 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 Plan2009 2.9.2 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
- 08 Sep 2010 - Use of cleaner and alternative fuels
- 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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