Europe is the largest biodiesel producer in the world. The sector boosts the economy, the European agriculture sector and rural development. Moreover, European biofuels are complementary to food production and play an important role for EU agriculture and energy independence.
European 1st generation biofuels allow for a reduction of the protein deficit of the EU
The food and feed outlet, through the production of proteins, is a key pillar for the sector, as the EU is still dependent for 70% of its importation of proteins. The production of rapeseed and sunflower in the EU contributes to the reduction of this deficit. As protein meal accounts for 60% of the rapeseed, finding alternative outlets for the remaining 40% (the oil, be it for food or biodiesel use) is crucial for the development of the European protein sector. As such, biodiesel is a sub-product of the protein production and responds to a dynamic of the circular economy.
Biofuels offer an alternative outlet for the European agriculture sector, by protecting farmers against poor harvest and excessive price fluctuations
As explained above, the production of the raw material (rapeseed, sunflower, etc.) is used in the production of biodiesel, food and animal feed production. Furthermore, the processes used contributes to the development of green chemistry.
By focusing exclusively on second and third generation biofuels, there is a serious risk of jeopardising the survival of the biodiesel industry. This is especially the case in the absence of binding objectives or concrete measures to promote the use of biofuels, such as “blending obligations” for fuel suppliers or annual incorporation targets (which would ensure a minimum share of biofuels in transport fuels).
This would have dramatic consequences in terms of employment, as a large majority of the 220,000 jobs in Europe are situated in rural and intermediary zones, with no outsourcing potential. Therefore, the stability of the first generation biofuel sector is essential for jobs and growth in the agricultural sector.
Abandoning the use of conventional biofuels will not divert rapeseed oil back to food use and prevent us from importing oils
Soybeans and tropical oils are imported because they serve specific uses. Vegetable oils are interchangeable only up to a certain point. It is their fatty acid profile, their functional properties and their price which determine the interest of having these oils as part of the available portfolio of oils to serve specific objectives: soybean oil is high in omega 3; palm oil is solid at room temperature, avoids trans fats and has a lesser saturated fat content than other oils or fats.
Hence, having no more biofuel policy in place after 2020 would not reduce the EU’s dependence on imported oils and, on the other hand, would considerably affect our industry and the whole upstream sector: the currently produced rapeseed oil for biodiesel production would not find its place in the EU food market; neither would there be export markets available for over 6 million tons of vegetable oils. The production would simply be scaled back to pre-biofuels levels, implying a loss of about 12 million tons of EU produced rapeseed and corresponding processing facilities.