Biodiesel targets push EU onto imports.

rapeseed - a visual blight

Currently, about 80 percent of EU biodiesel is processed from rapeseed, and biodiesel consumes about half of the EU’s rapeseed production.


Brazil is the world leader in bioethanol production (from sugar cane), followed by the United States (with corn), but the EU is the world leader in biodiesel production (predominately derived from rapeseed). An increasing share of its crop goes into fuel production. Rapeseed consumption has increased rapidly within the EU, to the point where it has become a net-importer of rapeseed for the first time in recent history. Furthering demand, there is a lack of processing capacity, raising vegetable oil prices. A number of oilseed crushing facilities are planned or being developed, as well as a number of plant conversions are occurring. In addition, soybean processing facilities are being retooled to allow for rapeseed processing, with its higher crush margin. Many processing plants are becoming multi-seed crushing facilities. These changes will help eliminate the current lack of processors within the EU. The EU doesn’t produce very large amounts of soybeans (0.9 million tons estimated for 2006/07), so they are forced to import. Most of their imports originate in Brazil, partly because of the relatively high protein and oil content in its soybeans, and its long season.

Blind leading the blind.


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3 Responses to Biodiesel targets push EU onto imports.

  1. Samyuktha says:

    I just want to say this is a very interesting blog. Being an environmental science student, I want to emphasize that politics and economics (all parts of it) play a big role in how the environment is treated. Economics is basically a subset of the larger ecosystem and politics entwines the world view. I shall keep a check on this blog regularly. As for Biodiesels, I see it as a good alternative.


  2. matt says:

    Hi Sam

    Thank you for your kind words. If more people from your generation come out with such wisdom then there is hope yet for sorting out the world’s problems. 🙂

    Welcome to ‘The Coffee House’.


  3. matt says:

    Summary of ‘Stratetic Energy Review and Biofuels’ from the EU;

    (Summarised by ‘Biofuelwatch’)

    Main points relating to bioenergy in the Strategic Energy Review,
    published by European Commissioners yesterday:

    1. Whilst there will be a general EU-wide target of 20% of all
    primary energy coming from renewables by 2020, there will be no
    specific mandatory targets for either nations or different sectors
    (eg electricity production or heating and cooling).

    2. There will be a binding minimum target of 10% of all vehicle fuels
    coming from biofuels by 2020. This target will be mandatory on all
    member states. This means that biofuels are the ONLY “renewable”
    sector and technology which is supported with a mandatory target.

    3. All biofuels will count towards the target, no matter whether they
    are linked to CO2 emissions, or whether they are produced
    sustainably. Calls for mandatory certification (made by many
    European NGOs) have been rejected, though this option is to
    be ‘studied’ in the longer term. There will be incentives for the
    use of ‘sustainable’ biofuels and for second-generation biofuels,
    though no details have been published as yet.

    4. Commissioners recommend the abolition or lowering of tarriffs on
    ethanol (currently 45%) – those on biodiesel and straight vegetable
    oil are already between 0 and 5%.

    5. The report states that it is anticipated that ethanol demand will
    be met mainly from European cereals and imported sugar cane, and
    later from cellulosic ethanol from straw and waste, and that
    biodiesel demand will be met mainly by domestic and imported rapeseed
    oil, complimented by soy and palm oil, and later by Fisher-Tropsch
    biodiesel from farmed wood. It also anticipates an increase in the
    amount of wood, energy crops and waste used for electricity

    What next:

    There will be a series of debates by the Foreign Affairs Ministers’
    Council between January and March, culminating in an Action Plan on
    5th/6th March.

    There will be another debate and vote in the European Parliament
    before March.

    An EU summit on 8th/9th March has been arranged to make the final
    decision on the Action Plan.

    Responses so far:

    The Strategic Energy Review covers climate change targets and the
    entire energy sector and most of the press releases issued yesterday
    do not focus on biofuels.

    However, the Transport and Environment Forum have condemned the
    biofuel plans as a ‘blunt instrument’:

    There has been a very welcoming response on a Biofuel Industry
    website (, but very
    critical responses from the European Renewable Energy Council. This
    supports my reading of the Energy Review as being bad news for the
    renewable sector overall.

    Greenpeace, WWF and the European Greens have focused on inadequate
    climate change targets, lack of instruments to support clean
    technologies and lack of a sustainable transport strategy in their
    initial responses.

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