- Where can I refuel biodiesel?
In the Netherlands and most European countries, biodiesel is blended into fossil diesel. So you buy it automatically if you fill up with diesel at a gas station.
- If biodiesel has better climate performance, can the blending percentage not be increased?
The blending percentage is regulated at European level and is gradually increasing to give the business community the opportunity to respond to developments. For 2020, the target was 10% renewable energy, such as biodiesel, in transport. In the meantime, Europe has agreed to use at least 14% renewable energy in transport by 2030. This means that by 2030 14% of the fuel sold at filling stations must consist of renewable sources such as biodiesel. In the mobility table of the Climate Agreement agreed a higher percentage. In a European context, a higher percentage is being discussed in the context of the “Green Deal”.
- Is there direct or indirect deforestation for biodiesel production?
No, valuable nature is not affected for the production of raw materials for biodiesel in the EU. This applies to valuable forest as well as other valuable nature such as grasslands with a high biodiversity value. The European sustainability criteria that the biodiesel must meet do not allow the use of raw materials from land that has been deforested. Those sustainability criteria can be found in article 29 of the European Renewable Energy Directive. In addition, the share of biodiesel from agricultural crops may no longer grow after 2020.
- Is biofuel a permanent solution to climate change?
The use of biofuels reduces CO2 emissions and therefore contributes to climate objectives. Humans use a lot of energy for transport. There is no single energy source that can meet the total energy demand alone. We need all shapes. For transport we need liquid biofuels. At present, trucks and ships use mineral diesel. For these vehicles and vessels, biodiesel is currently the most important alternative sustainable fuel. Research into vehicles and vessels running on electricity or hydrogen is still in its infancy and a total replacement of the vehicle fleet is only possible in 10 to 20 years’ time.
- Is wood being used for the production of biodiesel?
Biofuels are liquid renewable fuels and an alternative to liquid fossil fuels. Biodiesel is made from vegetable oil, animal fat and waste and residues such as used cooking fat. It is possible to make a liquid biofuel from wood. For example with pyrolysis. However, this only happens in the laboratory or pilot scale. Wood is used in power stations that burn solid fossil fuels such as coal. Part of the coal is replaced by wood.
- Aren’t biofuels from, for example, algae or seaweed a better alternative?
All biofuels that reduce CO2 emissions are a good alternative to fossil fuels. Humans use a lot of energy for transport and other activities. There is therefore no single energy source that can meet the total energy demand alone. At the moment, the production of algae is not yet scalable and economically unprofitable. In Annex V of the European Renewable Energy Directive explains how the CO2 emission reduction is calculated and what are typical values for specific biofuels.
- Are biofuels also used in aviation and shipping?
Air and ocean shipping currently have no legal obligations to reduce CO2 emissions. That may soon change. The Dutch government also wants to oblige inland shipping to use a minimum percentage of biofuel. Until then, trials are being conducted to test feasibility.
- Is the use of biofuels justifiable in view of the food shortage from the point of view of food security?
Globally, there is no food shortage. The fact that people are short of food is a distribution issue, according to the FAO . Particularly in developing countries, but even in developed countries, people are hungry because their income is too low to buy food, for example because they are unemployed. The use of agricultural products for biofuels offers people in rural areas employment and thus an opportunity to improve their economic situation. As a result, they can buy food and their children can go to school.
- Is palm oil used for biodiesel that can be refueled in the Netherlands?
The report from the Dutch Emissions Authority for 2019 shows that no palm oil was used The biodiesel based on palm oil sold elsewhere in Europe is sustainably produced. It meets the sustainability requirements of European legislation. Sustainability certification guarantees that.
- How does palm oil biodiesel compare to mineral diesel in terms of sustainability?
Palm oil biodiesel sold in Europe must meet sustainability criteria. Those sustainability criteria can be found in article 29 of the European Renewable Energy Directive. As a result, the greenhouse gas emissions are lower than those of mineral diesel. You can create palm oil plantations in a responsible way, for example without deforestation. But there are also wrong examples, where deforestation has taken place. If done the wrong way, and forest that stands on peat land is cut down, the biodiesel from the palm oil from that plantation leads to more CO2 emissions than fossil diesel. In that case, this biodiesel does not meet the sustainability criteria and may not be sold in the Netherlands and other European countries. In 2018, it was decided that the use of biodiesel based on palm oil should be phased out gradually between 2023 and 2030 in the Member States of the European Union. 2019 is the reference year for this. Because no biodiesel based on palm oil was sold in the Netherlands in 2019, it can no longer be used in the future.
- Is there a certification system for biofuels?
Yes, the European directive requires that all links in the biofuel chain are certified according to a scheme approved by the European Commission. The European Commission currently has more than ten voluntary schemes approved. In addition to certification, the government supervises. In the Netherlands, this supervision is carried out by the Dutch Emissions Authority. (NEa). This regulator reports annually to the House of Representatives on the progress being made. The International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Scheme (ISCC) is the most widely applied certification system in Europe . In 2018, all biofuels in the Netherlands were ISCC certified.
- Is the sustainability certification system watertight?
This system is well thought out and carefully executed. The system is continuously being refined and improved with various stakeholders. Unfortunately, gaps in the system have been exploited in the past. Lessons have been learned from this, which have led to improvements in the ISCC system. In recent years, the traceability of biofuels has mainly improved. Business and government work closely together to guarantee sustainability and improve traceability.
- Does biodiesel score better than fossil diesel when you look at sustainability aspects?
Sustainability encompasses various aspects: greenhouse gas balance, food competition, energy supply, biodiversity, prosperity and the environment. Those sustainability criteria can be found in article 29 of the European Renewable Energy Directive. Provided that it is sustainably produced, biodiesel is better than fossil fuels than diesel. The limit on the use of food crops prevents competition with food. In fact, this ban currently makes it unattractive for a European farmer to grow rapeseed or soya. Because Europe would like to become less dependent on the import of proteins, this rule is under discussion. Soy is an important protein crop. A soybean consists of 20% oil, but provides 80% protein-rich flour and is therefore an important nutrient.
- Isn’t it better to switch to solar energy or hydrogen in the transport sector?
Biodiesel is currently the most important alternative for heavy road transport. With a minimal volume you have a lot of energy. The energy content of hydrogen is half that of biodiesel. So you need twice as much for the same distance. Producing hydrogen costs a lot of energy in the form of electricity. Research is being conducted into improving the efficiency of electrolysis, currently the most commonly used technique for producing hydrogen. But in the coming years, biodiesel will be the main alternative to mineral diesel. Work is also underway on electric trucks. This requires a large and heavy battery. Building enough windmills, solar parks, batteries and charging stations to provide the energy takes time, while biodiesel is already available at the moment.
- Is there a future for biodiesel if diesel cars are no longer sold in 10 years?
Diesel passenger cars are indeed less popular, but it is unlikely that heavy road transport (trucks) will have a better alternative than biodiesel in 10 years’ time. Moreover, biodiesel is a good alternative for sea and inland shipping. Those sectors use a lot of diesel and heavy fuel oil.
- You sometimes read about 1e 2e and 3e generation biofuels. What does this mean?
The term first generation is mainly used for agricultural crops from which food is also made. Second generation is associated with biofuel from waste and residues such as used cooking oil. Third generation is often linked to woody biomass and waste materials that are not edible and that require new technology to produce biofuel. Officially, this is called advanced biofuel. Examples are algae, straw, manure and woody parts of agricultural crops.
- How much used cooking oil is needed to drive a car 100 km?
With an average consumption of 1 liter per 20 km, 5 liters of biodiesel are needed. Biodiesel weighs 0.88 kg/litre. So 5 liters of biodiesel is needed, which comes down to about 4.4 kg of frying fat.
- How many hectares of rapeseed are needed to drive a car 100 km?
After pressing the seeds and extracting the oil and converting it into biodiesel, 1 ha of rapeseed produces over 1600 l of biodiesel and 2400 kg of rapeseed meal. With an average consumption of 1 liter per 20 km, the sum is as follows: 1600 liters X 20 km = 32000 km total per ha. 1km = 1/32000 = 0.00003125. And this time 100 = 0.003125 ha = 31.25 m2 needed to drive 100 km.
- What is government policy on biofuels? Do we expect that to be adjusted by advancing insight?
In Europe, it has been agreed to use 32% renewable energy by 2030 and at least 14% in transport. These targets may be further increased due to the European Green Deal.
- Does the NL/EU government encourage the use of biofuels?
The European government obliges suppliers to use at least 14% renewable energy in fuel by 2030. In order to meet the general obligation to use at least 32% renewable energy, the Netherlands must do more in the transport sector than just that 14%. This was agreed at the Mobility table that is part of the Climate Agreement.