Use of renewable fuels in transport

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-28-en
Also known as: CSI 037 , TERM 031
expired Created 25 Aug 2016 Published 01 Dec 2016 Last modified 14 Feb 2018
9 min read
This is an old version, kept for reference only.

Go to latest version
Topics: ,
This page was archived on 14 Feb 2018 with reason: A new version has been published
The proportion of renewable energy used by the transport sector is growing but remains small. Across the EU-28, the average share of renewable energy used in transport was 5.4 % in 2013, a 0.4 % increase compared to the previous year. EEA data indicate that the share of renewable energy supply in the transport sector (RES-T) further increased to 5.9 % in 2014. These figures include only those biofuels that meet the sustainability criteria of the European Union’s (EU) Renewable Energy Directive (RED). All EU Member States are required to achieve a 10 % share in renewable energy by 2020, for all transport options. The progress of individual Member States’ towards this target varies, with most requiring significant further increases. Initially, the EU supported biofuels as a way to help mitigate climate change, but time and research has shown that making fuels out of crops has led to deforestation and increased stress on land resources, as well as potentially inflating food prices. As such, a 7 % cap on the amount of biofuels made from crops has been proposed. Next generation biofuels made from waste or algae may not raise the same problems but will require large investments to achieve large scale production. In 2011, EUROSTAT published the first data on the share of biofuels in transport energy use that meet the sustainability criteria of the Renewable Energy Directive (Art. 17 & Art. 18, 2009/28/EC). In 2011, 3.4 % of the energy consumed in transport was renewable, most of it from biofuels that meet the sustainability criteria. Most Member States require significant further increases in order to reach the Directive’s target of a 10 % share of renewable energy in transport by 2020.

Key messages

  • The proportion of renewable energy used by the transport sector is growing but remains small. Across the EU-28, the average share of renewable energy used in transport was 5.4 % in 2013, a 0.4 % increase compared to the previous year. EEA data indicate that the share of renewable energy supply in the transport sector (RES-T) further increased to 5.9 % in 2014. These figures include only those biofuels that meet the sustainability criteria of the European Union’s (EU) Renewable Energy Directive (RED). All EU Member States are required to achieve a 10 % share in renewable energy by 2020, for all transport options. The progress of individual Member States’ towards this target varies, with most requiring significant further increases.
  • Initially, the EU supported biofuels as a way to help mitigate climate change, but time and research has shown that making fuels out of crops has led to deforestation and increased stress on land resources, as well as potentially inflating food prices. As such, a 7 % cap on the amount of biofuels made from crops has been proposed. Next generation biofuels made from waste or algae may not raise the same problems but will require large investments to achieve large scale production.
  • In 2011, EUROSTAT published the first data on the share of biofuels in transport energy use that meet the sustainability criteria of the Renewable Energy Directive (Art. 17 & Art. 18, 2009/28/EC). In 2011, 3.4 % of the energy consumed in transport was renewable, most of it from biofuels that meet the sustainability criteria. Most Member States require significant further increases in order to reach the Directive’s target of a 10 % share of renewable energy in transport by 2020.

Is the EU on track towards the promotion of cleaner and alternative fuels?

Share of renewable energy in transport

Chart
Data sources: Explore chart interactively
Table
Data sources: Explore chart interactively

    All Member States have national targets detailing how they propose to comply with the overall target of a 10 % share of renewable energy supply in the transport sector (RES-T) by 2020, when only biofuels complying with the sustainability criteria under the RED are to be counted towards this target. The most recent data show that in 2014, 5.9 % of the energy consumed in transport is renewable, when including only those biofuels which met the sustainability criteria.

    In 2014, Finland was the EU country that used the largest amount of renewable energy in transport with a RES-T of 21.6 %, an increase of more than half compared to the previous year. Moreover, Sweden’s RES-T in 2014 corresponded to 19.2 %. Both Finland and Sweden have already reached the 2020 target of a 10 % share of renewable energy in transport as set by the RED. Other EU Member States with high shares of RES-T include Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia, all of which have shares above 6 %.

      In general the proportion of renewable energy used by the transport sector is growing but remains small. Several reasons lie behind the slow uptake of renewable fuels across the EU, including:

        • Market uncertainty caused by delays in limiting the risk of greenhouse gas emissions due to indirect land use change;
        • Relatively high abatement costs related to biofuels;
        • Slow progress in the deployment of second-generation biofuels.

            Indicator specification and metadata

            Indicator definition

            A ratio is used to determine the share of renewable energy in transport consumption (RES-T) of a Members State. Article 3 (4) of the RES Directive defines this ratio.

            The denominator of the ratio is the total amount of energy consumed in transport. This is calculated using only petrol, diesel, biofuels consumed in road and rail transport, and electricity.

            The numerator of the ratio 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 considered.

            To calculate the numerator and the denominator of the share of RES-T, the amount of electricity produced from renewable sources and consumed in all types of electric vehicles is used. Member States may 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, measured 2 years before the year in question. Furthermore, to calculate the amount of electricity from renewable energy sources consumed by electric road vehicles, a figure for consumption of 2.5 times the energy content of the electricity input from renewable sources shall be used.

            Units

            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

            Context description

            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 petrol and diesel specifications, as well as introducing, in Article 7a, a requirement that fuel suppliers 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 5.2 % of all petrol and diesel sold for transport purposes. This was still somewhat below the original 5.75 % policy objective, under Directive 2003/30/EC, to be achieved 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 of 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. Also, each Member State shall seek to achieve a minimum level of biofuel consumption, taking effect from April 2017. A reference value for this target is a 0.5 percentage point growth in the share of energy from renewable sources in all forms of transport by 2020, to be met with biofuels produced in feedstocks and other fuels listed in part A of Annex IX.

            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.

            Targets

            The RED (2009/28/EC) set a target for all Member States of 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.