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German biofuels sector lobbies EU on certification

December 17, 2012, London, UK — German biofuels industry group VDB is lobbying the EU to change its rules on recognizing Renewable Energy Directive (RED) sustainability schemes amid widespread confusion over the eligibility of certified biofuels for trade across national borders within the EU.


December 17, 2012
By Argus Media

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Rules that came into effect in Germany last month are likely to disadvantage those German producers and companies that rely on one of the country's two non-EU recognised national sustainability schemes, the German ISCC DE and Redcert DE, for their certificates.

The EU RED directive stipulates that only biofuels accompanied with sustainability certificates issued by European Commission-approved systems will automatically qualify for cross-border recognition. Further, while EU-certified product is eligible for use in national schemes, such as ISCC DE and Redcert, EU-certified crushers and biodiesel producers can only accept EU-certified feedstocks.

Although ISCC and Redcert offer their own EU-recognised schemes, their national DE schemes, which were introduced in 2011, still run parallel to the newer EU-schemes. Some companies have so far only obtained DE certification, while at the point of feedstock collection almost the entire German 2012 harvest has been certified only under a national scheme.

The EU granted a transitory period for ISCC DE-certified product to be used in EU-schemes, but this ended last week.

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Product certified under a national scheme can still be used towards the national mandate inside Germany, but its eligibility towards other EU member states' mandates remains a grey area.

EU governments can decide to mutually recognize the national schemes of other EU member states, or they can choose to block these schemes from their own biofuels markets. Most EU countries have so far not made public any formal decisions as to which national schemes they would recognize, according to the ISCC.

So far, only the UK has said it will not recognize DE-certified product, while Denmark will allow DE-certified product to be used within its borders until mid-2013.

The VDB has held talks with the relevant German ministries to press for a change in the EU's interpretation of EU policy. It is calling for an extension of a transitory period in which national schemes will have to be recognized by other states. Alternatively, the VDB is calling for the EU to grant retrospective cross-border recognition of product certified only under national schemes.

The VDB sees the German industry, the first in Europe to introduce RED sustainability requirements, being put at a competitive disadvantage by the current system of rules. And it argues that the sustainability reporting differences between EU and DE schemes are marginal.

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