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Biofuels expansion backed by Whitehall

A commitment to meeting European Union renewable energy targets by greater use of biofuels has been spelled out by ministers.

But the Renewable Energy Association has called for more details on how such targets would be reached.

Transport minister Norman Baker has published the official response to the consultation on his department’s proposals for implementing the transport aspects of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

The RED requires the UK to source 10% of energy used in transport from renewable sources by 2020.

Baker said: “There remain a number of uncertainties regarding the sustainability of biofuels and their best use. However, I do believe that genuinely sustainable biofuels have an important role to play in our efforts to tackle climate change and in security of energy supply”.

He said this was particularly the case where there was no viable alternative fuel, such as for HGVs and aviation.

Meanwhile, research was being undertaken to understand the indirect effects related to biofuels and to investigate how the negative indirect effects can be reduced.

“It is crucial that we do all we can to ensure that biofuels both deliver real greenhouse gas emission reductions and do not cause unacceptable environmental and social side effects in the process,” he said.

Clare Wenner, REA’s head of renewable transport said the commitment to move to obligatory sustainability rules for biofuels was “a huge step in the right direction”.

“However, investors urgently need to know how the Government plans to reach the 10% target. A clear pathway must be put into legislation before investment can be unlocked to deliver sustainable green fuels.

“If that investment comes forward there will be new green manufacturing jobs for the UK. If not, those jobs will go elsewhere in the world and the UK will have missed a real opportunity for growth.”

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