Germany: abandonment of biofuel support from 2008

Abandonment of the massive biofuels development project in Germany

On April 4, 2008, Germany had to give up one of the pillars of its environmental policy: the massive development of biofuels. “All together, we have underestimated the problems,” admitted Federal Minister of the Environment, Sigmar Gabriel. An admission that condemns E10, the new fuel that Berlin wanted to impose from next year and which was to contain 10% ethanol incorporated in conventional gasoline.

The reason given is technical: the mixture, more corrosive than conventional fuel, would risk wearing out some engine parts too quickly and would be unsuitable for older vehicles. According to the estimate of the federation of importers VDIK, around 3,3 million vehicles would be unable to run with the new mixture of bioethanol and conventional gasoline. However, Mr. Gabriel had already warned that he would abandon the project if the number of unsuitable vehicles exceeded one million.

Motorists who could not have put E10 in their tank would have had to fall back on Super-Plus, a more expensive fuel. Thus, the motorists club ADAC refused the additional cost caused by the E10. Politicians of all stripes had rallied to this opposition front, and environmentalists themselves denounced the methods of cultivating rapeseed or soybeans intended for the production of agrofuels, and thus competing with the agro-food industry. .

Read also:  Agrofuels or biofuels?

And to Christian Hey, Secretary General of the Federal Office for the Environment (UBA), to add: “Biofuels represent a danger for biodiversity, they impose massive pressure on the tropical forest and destroy the natural gas sensors. greenhouse effect contained in uncultivated soils ”.

Following the announcement of the abandonment of the project, Mr. Gabriel continued despite everything to defend his ambitious strategy of reducing CO2 emissions (-40% in 2020 compared to 1990) by declaring that the objective remained achievable if :
- the share of renewable electricity was increased to 30% by 2020 (against an announced target of 25 to 30% in the energy-climate plan),
- the development of second generation biofuels was supported.

However, the abandonment of the project is not without consequences. Biofuels should enable the automotive industry to meet the target of 120 gCO2 / km set by the European Commission. Manufacturers will now have to find "other technical measures".

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Source: BE Germany

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