Biograce Project Background
In 2009 the European Union set sustainability criteria for biofuels with the legislation of the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings from biofuels must be at least 35% compared to fossil fuels; this figure rises to at least 50% by 2017, and 60% by 2018 for biofuels produced in new installations.
Calculation of GHG emission savings
The directives give default values for GHG emission savings of 22 biofuel production pathways (Annex V of the Renewable Energy Direcitve or Annex IV of the Fuel Quality Directive). For economic operators who want or need to do the calculations themselves a formula is given; the formula states that total GHG emissions are the sum of emissions from cultivation, processing and transportation of the biofuels. Yet the directives do specify neither the "standard conversion values" nor the "input numbers" that were used to obtain the default values.
The BioGrace project will retrace and publish how the default values were calculated and elaborate a uniform and transparent list of standard conversion values for GHG calculations.
Input numbers and standard conversion values
Input numbers are for instance the amount of fertiliser to grow rape or the amount of electricity and natural gas to convert rapeseed into biodiesel. Standard conversion values are for instance the emissions of nitrous oxide or carbon dioxide per kilogramme of nitrogen fertiliser or per megajoule of natural gas. These are required to convert input numbers into GHG emissions.
As the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive do not fix these standard conversion values, economic operators can freely choose the most favourable ones. This will lead to differences in results among economic operators, even when the calculations have been made for the same shipment of biofuel. The difference in results can be as high as 10%, 20% or even more.
Auditors and biofuel policy makers throughout Europe confirm that this is a problem for at least two reasons:
- This problem negatively affects the European biofuels market;
- Auditors cannot verify calculations if key parameters are not defined unambiguously. In particular they are unable to check the standard conversion values used.
This problem was discussed at a policy maker workshop early June 2009. Policy makers from 9 EU Member States and from the European Commission concluded that the most appropriate solution is to produce and publish a complete set of standard conversion values and to refer to this from national legislation implementing the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive.