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Biofuels could slash transport sector's need for oil

Europe has significant untapped potential for converting wastes from farming, forestry, industry and households to low-carbon biofuels, a report has found.

But this could be realised only with a strong sustainability framework and ambitious decarbonisation targets for transport fuels in 2030, research by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and consultancy the National Non-Food Crops Centre (NNFCC) has shown.

It found that uncertainty over European Union policy on decarbonisation of transport fuels was blocking these innovations from reaching their full potential.

Research for the report Wasted: Europe’s Untapped Resource was carried out for 14 organisations from the climate, wildlife and transport sectors.

If all sustainable waste from farms, forests, households and industry were used for transport fuels, some 37 million tonnes of oil could be saved annually by 2030, equivalent to 16% of road transport fuel demand, the report noted.

Chris Malins who led the analysis for the ICCT, said: “Even when taking account of possible indirect emissions, alternative fuels from wastes and residues offer real and substantial carbon savings.

“The resource is available, and the technology exists - the challenge now is for Europe to put a policy framework in place that allows rapid investment.”

He said that meeting this demand could see the creation of up to 300,000 jobs across Europe in construction, refining and waste collection by 2030.

NNFCC lead consultant David Turley said: “Our analysis indicates that once deployed at scale, advanced biofuels from agricultural and forest residue feedstocks would require little or only a modest additional incentive to stimulate production at prices comparable to that of current crop-fuelled technologies.”

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