Use of cleaner and alternative fuels
All EU Member States are to achieve a 10 % share in renewable energy by 2020 for all transport options. Individual Member States progress towards this
target varies. As a reference, the average share of renewable energy across the EU‑28 consumed in transport between 2010 and 2011 increased from 3.5 % to 3.8 %. These figures include only those biofuels which met the sustainability criteria.
In 2011 EUROSTAT has for the first time published the share of biofuels in transport energy use which meet the sustainability criteria of the Renewables Directive (Art. 17 & Art. 18, 2009/28/EC). The data shows that in 2011 3.8% of the energy consumed in transport was renewable, most of it from biofuels meeting the sustainability criteria. Most Member States require significant further increases in order to reach the Directive’s target for a 10% share of renewable energy in transport by 2020.
In 2011, the unweighted average EU-27 sulphur content was 5.7 ppm for petrol, and 7.0 ppm for diesel. An EU specification came into force on 1 January 2009, which limits the sulphur content of all automotive road fuels to a maximum of 10 ppm. Reductions in the sulphur content of fuels are expected to have a large impact on exhaust emissions as they will enable the introduction of more sophisticated after-treatment systems.
Is EU's progress towards promoting cleaner and alternative fuels satisfactory?
The EU Biofuels Directive has created a favourable legislative framework in most Member States and has therefore triggered rapid market implementation of biofuels. The share of biofuels in the EU-28 in 2010 was 4.6 % 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 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. All Member States have set national targets detailing how they propose to comply with the overall target of a 10 % share of renewable energy supply in the transport sector by 2020, where only biofuels complying with the sustainability criteria under the RED are to be counted towards this target. Accordingly, the most recent data show that in 2011 only 3.8 % of the energy consumed in transport is renewable, when including only those biofuels which met the sustainability criteria (an increase of 9.8% compared to 2010, when also applying these criteria).
An EU specification came into force on 1 January 2009, which limits the sulphur content of all automotive road fuels to a maximum of 10 ppm. While in 2009 and 2010 some of the EU-27’s new Member States still exceeded the limit for diesel fuels it was met by all Member States in 2011. Surprisingly, the data for 2011 show that Bulgaria breached the limit for petrol while having complied in previous years. Reductions in the sulphur content of fuels are expected to have a significant impact on exhaust emissions through facilitating the introduction of more sophisticated after-treatment systems such as diesel particulate filters, as well as improving the efficiency and durability of existing exhaust after-treatment systems.
Under the new Directive 2009/28/EC 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.
For the year 2011 EUROSTAT has for the first time published the share of biofuels in transport energy use which meet the sustainability criteria of the RED, even though the systems for certifying sustainable biofuels were not yet fully operational in a number of Member States.. The graph above shows that in 2011 only 3.8% of the energy consumed in transport is renewable, including only those biofuels meeting the sustainability criteria and has increased by 9.8% compared to 2010. The consumption of energy from renewable sources would have been much closer to the 5.75% target set in the original Biofuels Directive (2003/30/EC) when all biofuels are taken into account, as its share is 5.1% in 2011. In the previous year (2010) where biofuels were measured without sustainability criteria their share was 4.6%. This means that Member States are further away from meeting the RED target of a 10% sustainable biofuel share by 2020 than may have been anticipated from data from the past years. The difference between nominal biofuel share and biofuel share meeting the RED criteria is most notable for France, Portugal and Slovakia. Despite these countries having some of the highest biofuel shares in Europe, only a small fraction of these meet the sustainability criteria. However, the graph only shows biofuels as the share of renewable sources in the transport sector, even though other sources, especially renewable electricity, could eventually contribute.
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 Plan2013 2.9.2 (note: EEA internal system)
Frequency of updates
- 05 Nov 2010 - Use of cleaner and alternative fuels
- 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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