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Friday, October 3, 2008

The biofuel wars-a draft that actually makes sense

A slight reference to KOL, but I simply couldn't help it. Now, I smell something delicious in the EU kitchen, I just hope the EC won't fail us once again. I mean, what's good is good, it may not be comfortable for them to hurt the industry, but the industry isn't that hurtable. They are actually very strong and all they need is an even stronger hand to get the idea and move on as required.
But it's fun to watch the show Parliament against Comissions. Fuuun!
  • MEPs give major boost to renewables industry
  • Biofuel-makers denounce target downgrade

MEPs give major boost to renewables industry

12 September 2008

The Parliament's Industry Committee has almost unanimously backed EU legislation that paves the way for massive investment in renewables. EU countries are set to back the main elements of the vote, according to Green MEP Claude Turmes, who shepherded the file through Parliament.

On 23 January, the Commission put forward proposals designed to boost renewable energy use to 20% by 2020. The plans include individual targets to be achieved by member states, with indicative interim goals to point the way.

In its initial proposal, the Commission wanted to encourage the creation of an EU-wide system of trading in virtual guarantees of origin certificates for renewable energy. But these plans were scuppered under pressure from industry and key member states, who complained that such a system would undermine their national renewable energy support schemes.

"This is a great day" for renewable energies in Europe, said an emotional and overjoyed Turmes following the committee's vote in Brussels yesterday (11 September).

The Green MEP from Luxembourg, who authored the Parliament's report on a proposal to boost the share of renewables in final energy consumption to 20% by 2020, predicts that the wind turbine sector alone will overtake EU car manufacturers as the biggest clients of the steel industry by 2013.

Following weeks of difficult negotiations among the Parliament's political groups, over 1,800 amendments to the Turmes report were condensed into 35 compromise amendments. MEPs in the Industry (ITRE) Committee voted by 50 votes in favour of the final report, with only two MEPs voting against.

The adopted report makes no changes to the individual targets set for member states by the Commission in its original proposal (see EurActiv LinksDossier).

But Turmes won support from other MEPs over his insistence that the EU set interim targets for member states, backed by the threat of financial penalties of up to €110 per megawatt (mw) for laggards. In contrast, member states that overachieve should receive a financial award to the tune of €30 to €40 per mw, Turmes said.

In the weeks ahead, Turmes will attempt to convince the Council of the need for such a penalty regime. While the rapporteur claims he has already received "very good feedback" from select EU governments, it remains unclear if the regime will be welcomed by a majority of member states.

The rapporteur expects little trouble in getting them to sign up to the flexibility mechanisms outlined in the report, since they are largely a "copy-paste" of an earlier joint proposal put forward by the UK, Germany and Poland, Turmes said (EurActiv 10/06/08).

Under the plans, member states could engage in joint renewables projects and record mw increases as progress towards their indidivudal targets, meaning the percentage of renewable energy increase achieved in each project would be shared between the participating member states based on the level of participation of each country.

The Turmes report includes specific language designed to give renewable energies priority access to existing electricity and gas infrastructure. Member states should also impose new rules that would promote, or oblige, the use of renewable technologies in new and existing buildings.

"I am not too optimistic" that all EU countries will embrace the push for priority grid access," Oliver Schäfer, policy director at the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), told EurActiv.

Positions:

The Commission welcomes the "comprehensive" work of Turmes and the ITRE Committee on the renewables files, Hans Van Steen told MEPs on 10 September on the eve of the vote.

But Steen, who is head of unit for renewables regulatory policy in the Commission's energy directorate (DG TREN), expressed a "worry" that a system of joint target compliance for member states could weaken the incentives for each country to pursue its individual targets.

Most of Parliament's political groups reacted positively, reflecting the broad political backing for the report achieved in advance of the vote.

Greenpeace hailed the vote as a sign that the EU is "moving closer to the energy revolution in the fight against climate change," the organisation's renewables campaigner Frauke Thies said in a statement. source
My comment: I just didn't see the issue of certificates of origin of the biofuels. That's weird, because it's mentioned in the next article. In any case, I'm little suspicious to a legislation created by Germany, UK and Poland. They are not exactly an example of environment friendliness. But in any case, I like the penalties since they are absolutely necessary for the legislation to work. And I'm happy for the guy, because obviously he put a lot of heart in that fight .

Biofuel-makers denounce target downgrade

12 September 2008

European biofuel producers were disappointed by a key vote in Parliament yesterday (11 September), which, though confirming a binding 10% target for renewables in transport fuels by 2020, shifts the focus away from agro-fuels and provides for a "major" mid-term review, which they say threatens investment in the sector.

The draft directive includes a mandatory 10% target for biofuels by 2020, which has become the most controversial element of the proposals. Concerns about rising food prices and biodiversity loss as land is diverted to biofuel production, as well as questionable CO2 reduction values, led to calls for the reduction or outright rejection of the target, including from a number of member states and by Green MEP Claude Turmes, who is Parliament's rapporteur on the dossier (EurActiv 29/05/08).

However, the Commission's draft directive instead proposes introducing a range of "sustainability criteria" for biofuels to counter these concerns.

The European Parliament's Industry and Energy Committee backed a report drafted by Luxembourg Green MEP Claude Turmes which calls for a 5% share of renewables in transport fuel by 2015 and a 10% target by 2020.

The text nevertheless specifies that at least 20% of the 2015 target and 40% of the 2020 goal must be met from "non-food and feed-competing" second-generation biofuels or from cars running on green electricity and hydrogen.

This shift away from agro-fuels has been hailed by NGOs. But biofuel producers are angered that the new text effectively translates into a mere 4% biofuel target by 2015 – marking a regression compared to the goal of 5.75% by 2010 that the EU set itself back in 2003 and based on which the industry has already made heavy and irreversible investments.

The Turmes report also specifies that traditional first-generation biofuels, made from crops such as sugar, rapeseed or corn, would only count towards the target if they meet strict sustainability criteria. This includes social sustainability criteria, including respect for the land rights of local communities or the fair remuneration of all workers, as well as an obligation for biofuels to offer at least 45% carbon emission savings compared to fossil fuels – a figure that would rise to 60% in 2015.

These figures are much higher than those originally proposed by the Commission (merely a 35% saving) and also more ambitious than those currently under consideration by national governments.

The final figure will be crucial to the industry as, typically, biodiesel made from European-grown rapeseed results in a greenhouse gas saving of 44% while the typical figure for ethanol made from EU sugar beet is 48%.

What's more, the parliamentary committee is demanding that, before 2015, a full review of the whole EU biofuel promotion policy and its social and environmental impacts be carried out to determine whether the targets need revising.

This review should "focus on consequences for food security, biodiversity and the availability of electricity or hydrogen from renewable sources, biogas or transport fuels from ligno-cellulosic biomass and algae," the text reads.

Such a clause is strongly opposed by both biofuel producers and the European Commission, which fear it will create even more uncertainty and deter investments in the sector.

The Industry and Energy Committee approved the compromise text by a strong majority of 50 in favour and just two against, and Turmes is confident the report will win the backing of the Parliament plenary when it votes on the dossier in October. source

My comment: Ok, flexibility aside, I think the draft is great! If it passes it will be a great kick in the ass of European Comission. It's high time to see some genuine interest in the envirionment and the effect of people on it. Me likes! Especially the reaction of the industry. Seriously, if it's all up to the EU to promote what they produce, why it should do it if it's damaging the Nature? It doesn't make sense. Although I have some doubts on the second generation biofuels, at least they won't cut forests to grow corn. I also don't think biofuels have anything to do with the price of food, but they do have a lot to do with the massive cutting of trees.


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