02 October 2008

Proposed Irish Biofuels Obligation Scheme Out for Public Consultation

New target for biofuels in Ireland

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan has published the Government’s proposed Biofuels Obligation Scheme for public consultation.

This scheme will set a percentage target of transport fuels used in the State which must consist of biofuels and sets certain conditions regarding the type of biofuels which can be counted towards that target. The obligation will apply to fuel companies, placing no burden on the taxpayer. It will be a key component in achieving the EU target of 10% penetration of renewable energy in transport by 2020. The Government remains committed to this target.

The consultation document proposes a target of 4% by volume of transport fuel by 2010, equating to 3% by energy. It attaches an important condition - the biofuels must come from sustainable sources.

Biofuels in Ireland must be entirely compliant with EU Sustainability Criteria, which are currently being finalised. These will set out stringent conditions which fuels must meet before they can be considered as contributing to the EU targets, including:-

- a minimum level of greenhouse gas savings
- biodiversity requirements to prevent certain lands such as natural forests and protected areas being used in the production of biofuels - and
- social reporting obligations on the Commission.

The essential aim of these criteria is to ensure that biofuels used within the EU do not result in adverse consequences for societies and the environment globally. They will also encourage the next generation of biofuels and support investment in cleaner and more sustainable types of transport fuels.

The Government’s targets up to 2020 will be continually reviewed as more evidence comes to light on the effects of biofuels in the world food markets and new technologies come on-stream.

Publishing the Scheme, Minister Ryan said - “This new target reflects growing concerns that increases in the amounts of biofuels being produced were having some adverse environmental and developmental effects around the world. We will move towards 2020 with gradual, careful progress.

"However, biofuels remain a fundamentally good idea, given that we need alternative sources of fuel. The era of cheap oil is over and Ireland requires new methods of fuelling our transport fleet.

"Biofuels also remain necessary for Ireland in terms of energy security. We need access to a certain percentage of non-fossil fuel to run essential services, in the event of a global oil shortage. This is prudent planning in an uncertain energy world.

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