In the EU, the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sets target for the use of bioenergy in the energy mix of the Union. The Renewable Energy Directive II (the REDII), adopted in 2018, entered into force on January 1, 2021, for the period 2021-2030 in 2018. The EU Member States (MS) were required to transpose the REDII by June 30, 2021, into national legislation.
2018 Renewable Energy Directive
The REDII sets an overall binding renewable energy target of at least 32 percent by 2030 with a 14 percent target for the transport sector, with a clause for a possible upwards revision by 2023. Within the 14 percent transport sector target, food-based biofuels are capped at up to one percent higher than MS 2020 levels, but with a maximum cap of seven percent for each MS. If the cap on first generation biofuels in a MS is less than seven percent, the country may reduce the transport target by the same amount (for example, a country with a food and feed crop cap of six percent could set a transport target at 13 percent).
For advanced biofuels, the REDII introduces two different sets of targets for feedstock listed in Part A of Annex IX and feedstock listed in Part B. Feedstock listed in Part A must be supplied at a minimum of 0.2 percent of transport energy in 2022, one percent in 2025 and increasing to at least 3.5 percent by 2030. Biofuels produced from feedstock listed in Part B will be capped at 1.7 percent in 2030. Advanced biofuels can be double counted towards both the 3.5 percent target and towards the 14 percent target.
To qualify for counting towards the REDII targets, biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass consumed in the EU must comply with strict sustainability criteria provided in Article 29 of the REDII. This article sets requirements on the minimum level of greenhouse gas (GHG) savings, safeguarding against the conversion of high-carbon content lands and protection of biodiversity.
Voluntary schemes and national certification schemes of EU MS help to ensure that biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels are sustainably produced by verifying that they comply with the EU sustainability criteria.
More information about the recognition process for the voluntary schemes can be found on the Commission’s website.
Revision of the 2018 Renewable Energy Directive
In July of 2021, the Commission proposed updating the targets of the RED with a new overall renewable energy target of 40 percent. As part of the revision, the Commission also proposed amending the sustainability and greenhouse gas emissions saving criteria for biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels. The Commission notably wants to ban the use of feedstock coming from primary forest, highly biodiverse forest, highly biodiverse grassland, wetlands, and continuously forested areas for forestry biomass (wood pellets). The Commission does not propose changing the cap for conventional/crop-based biofuels, which stays at 1 percent above Member State 2020 consumption levels, up to an overall cap of 7 percent of final consumption of road and rail transport for each Member State.
The text is currently with the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union and should be adopted in 2023.