Low ILUC potential of wastes and residues for biofuels

Straw, forestry residues, UCO, corn cobs

Published: 09/09/2013

In a study commissioned by the German, Dutch and Danish Governments, Ecofys estimates that a total quantity of 17Mtoe (million tonnes of oil equivalent) of biofuels could be produced from woody residues  and cereal straw from Europe and globally available used cooking oil (UCO) without causing Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). This would equal almost 60% of the total forecasted quantity of biofuels in the EU in 2020 and well over 100% when counted double.

In order to assess the low ILUC potential for each of the materials the study first identifies the available theoretical potential of each of the materials. This is the quantity of the material which is available and could in theory be harvested or collected. Subsequently the sustainable potential is estimated. This is the quantity which can be harvested or collected in a sustainable way, taking into account the need to protect, for example, soil quality. Finally the low indirect impact or low ILUC potential is estimated. This potential takes into account the current non-bioenergy uses of the material. Displacing these uses could lead to ILUC and therefore these existing uses are deducted from the sustainable potential. Because UCO is traded globally its potential was assessed also outside the EU while the other materials were analysed at EU and Member State level.

Quantifying the available potential of waste and residue materials in a robust manner is difficult. Unlike agricultural crops or other main products, no statistics exist on the availability of wastes and residues. This study bases its quantification on available literature and on interviews with a large number of selected experts. The lack of statistics mean that the potentials quantified in this report are best estimates.

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Daan Peters
Sustainable Industries and Services