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RFA: Biogas may have more potential than UCO as an alternative fuel

Biofuel made from used cooking oil remains a niche product but biogas could have much more scope, says an industry expert.

Revealed in the Renewable Fuels Agency report Year One of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation for 2008/09, just over 12 per cent of the biofuel supplied to fuel manufacturers in the UK is made from wastes and by-products, such as used cooking oil (UCO), tallow animal fats cheese-by-products and municipal solid waste, which creates biogas. Other biofuels were made from crops such as oilseed rape, tallow, palm oil and soy.

Commenting on the results found by the RFA, communications specialist Chris Malins said: UCO is an example of a great sustainable fuel but there is a limit on the supply of used cooking oil in the UK because it is dictated by the amount of oil used for frying in restaurants. Its simply not that available in the UK and so, remains a niche fuel, for instance for fleet use, which has an appeal as a firms corporate responsibility issue.

Its very early days for biogas fuel made from waste, however, there seems to be a lot more produced and more is coming on to the market. This is because a lot more people are looking at technologies like anaerobic digestion and how to use biogas as a fuel. There is certainly significant potential growth with this type of technology. However, it would depend on whether people are willing to convert their vehicles to gas or are willing to buy gas-ready fleets.

The report revealed that just four fossil fuel firms in the UK out of 15 have met all three of the Governments first-year targets to encourage the use of more biofuel in UK fossil fuels by 2013/14, according to data provided by the Renewable Fuels Agency
ConocoPhillips, Greenergy, Lissan and Mabanaft were the only fossil fuel firms to hit Government targets. These targets, which are not mandatory, aim for fossil fuel companies to have 30 per cent of biofuel feedstock meeting a Qualifying Environmental Standard, to achieve an annual 40 per cent greenhouse gas saving delivered by the introduction of biofuels and to report 50 per cent of the data surrounding the renewable fuel characteristics.

Commenting on the missed Government targets Malins said: It is important to remember that this is the first year of the renewable transport fuel obligation. And it is difficult for firms which are not focused on reporting agricultural sourcing and sustainability. Having said that, we are disappointed that a group of firms has pulled down the success of the others but this process is about taking stepping stones and constantly engaging with the firms.

Government targets for 2009/10 are also expected to be missed.


 

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