Progress in Renewable Energy and Biofuels Sustainability

Published: 28/03/2013

Ecofys, with partners Winrock, Fraunhofer ISI, the Energy Economics Group at TU Vienna, BBH and Fischer supported the European Commission in its 2012 reporting requirements under the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC). We provided a detailed analysis of the progress in renewable energy in the European Member States and of the sustainability impacts of biofuels in the EU.

Our analysis shows that the Member States are currently on track with their RES trajectory and that important progress has been made in tackling the barriers to electricity grid integration and implementing guarantees of origin. However the outlook to 2020 is uncertain. The projections show that with the current policies and measures almost all Member States will fail to meet their 2020 targets. Future RES progress towards 2020 requires reliable and strengthened policies and measures as well as improved administrative procedures in all Member States.  

The second part of the report brings the discussion on biofuels sustainability in perspective, with data and analysis on many different aspects. Sustainability impacts from EU consumed biofuels (like air, soil, water, biodiversity and several socio-economic effects) largely occur within the EU itself because the larger part of the feedstock is produced within the EU. The remainder of biofuels feedstock comes mainly from Argentina, Brazil, USA, Malaysia and Indonesia, countries for which we have assessed amongst others the land-use and regulative framework for safeguarding sustainability. The debate on biofuels versus food security is put into different perspectives by analysis of both local and global effects. Finally, some impacts may even result from the prospect on an attractive European market for biofuels, such as a small number of land deals, mainly in Africa.

The report can be found on the website of the European Commission.

Concurrently, in another project, Ecofys analysed if additional mandatory criteria for soil, air and water would be necessary and how the implementation of the directive in all member states is progressing. More information on that project can be found here.

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Carlo Hamelinck
Sustainable Industries and Services
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Michèle Koper
Sustainable Industries and Services
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Renewable energy