The 2005 biofuel plan

While the surge in the price of oil is relaunching the debate on the development of renewable energies, the French government has just announced its “biofuels plan”, which is due to come into force in early 2005. The professionals in these sectors have not, however, obtained the fiscal and regulatory measures they requested.

The price of a barrel of oil, which climbed to $ 45 during the month of August, may not have a direct effect on investments in renewables, but it will at least have served as a reminder of the situation of energy dependence in which most Western countries find themselves. The depletion of deposits in the North Sea, Canada and Mexico may also worsen this situation of dependence on oil, which, in the long term, will come mainly from geopolitically unstable areas - Middle East, Caucasus, Central Asia and Gulf of Guinea-. These two factors combined could lead to further price spikes in the next 50 years, and even countries like France, which have chosen the nuclear option, would be affected. Hence the important role that renewable energies can play, which are currently limited to 10% of energy consumption in Europe, but which should reach 21% by 2010 according to the regulations in force. Biofuels - ethanol, methanol and biodiesel - are expected to drop from 2% in 2005 to 5,75% in 2010. In France, they are currently only incorporated up to 1% in gasoline and diesel, despite 180 million euros of tax incentives per year. Professionals in these sectors are impatiently awaiting other fiscal and regulatory measures, but the government has remained silent on this issue. On August 19, President Chirac himself underlined "the very great importance he attaches to the development of bioenergy for agricultural, environmental and energy reasons" and asked the government "to accelerate the development and dissemination of biofuels. "By measures applied" from next January 1 ".

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Ecological and economic benefits

The benefits of bioenergy are both economical and ecological. In countries such as the United States or Brazil, which are increasing their production capacities by nearly 30% per year, they save 1,1 million tonnes of oil each year, or around 2,5 to 3 billion euros, while they also avoid the emission of 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide ... Transport being the main source of pollutant emissions into the air (it represents 50% of total oil consumption), we understand the challenge which now consists of making the production of biofuels competitive with that of fossil fuels. "It is urgent that the government take its measures, otherwise France will fall behind schedule, underlines Pierre Cuypers, president of president of the Association for the development of agricultural fuels (Adeca) and of the European Committee of biofuels. When it takes a month in the United States to build a production unit of one million tonnes of bioethanol, it takes two years in France ”. The players in the sector are therefore asking for a fiscal and regulatory framework to succeed in doubling the rate of biofuel incorporated in gasoline and diesel, consisting in particular of "rewarding good students and taxing those who do not incorporate biofuels". All the more so as the countries of the European Union have the agricultural resources - oilseeds, corn - necessary for the production of biofuels to meet needs by 2010. Nearly 120 jobs could also be created by the development of this sector, according to professional organizations.

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Véronique Smée

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