York, UK — The European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) has led to concerns that expansion in the use of biofuels may be contributing to deforestation and land use change. This has led to increased interest in the potential for use of non-food feedstocks for biofuel production such as crop residues and other waste streams. The European Climate Foundation and partners have investigated the potential for converting wastes from farming, forestry, industry and households to advanced low-carbon biofuels, and now publish their findings.
In support of the project, NNFCC analysed the economic viability and employment opportunities that will result from the exploitation of crop, forest and waste-derived residues for advanced biofuel production.
This identified that agricultural and forest residues would require little or only a modest additional incentive to stimulate production of biofuels at a price comparable to that offered by current commercial biofuel technologies. Refuse-derived biofuels were found to be cost competitive with current crop-derived bioethanol sources, but the issue here is complicated by the co-production of fossil ethanol from partially-renewable waste streams.
The incentives required in most cases are not in excess of those that have been offered as duty reductions to incentivise biofuel industry start-up in the past and currently on offer by some EU Member States. In some cases high feedstock cost, particularly where this is in excess of €70-€ 80/tonne, may be a barrier to development. As an alternative to production support, mandating the use of such fuels would also drive their development, encouraging the most economically competitive technology solutions.
David Turley, lead consultant on biobased feedstocks at NNFCC, who led the analysis, said: „Exploitation of these resources offers significant potential for increasing employment and economic returns in rural communities.“
The full NNFCC report titled „Use of sustainably-sourced residue and waste streams for advanced biofuel production in the European Union: rural economic impacts and potential for job creation“ can be found under nnfcc.co.uk.
Source: National Non-Food Crops Centre