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What is biodiesel?
Why use biodiesel?
Production of biodiesel in the EU
EBB's role in the European Commission

What is biodiesel?

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced from vegetable oils such as rape seed oil, sunflower seed oil, soybean oil and also used frying oils (UFO) or animal fats.

In the transport sector, it may be effectively used both when blended with fossil diesel fuel and in pure form. Tests undertaken by motor manufacturers in the European Union on blends with diesel oil up to 5-10%, or at 25-30% and 100% pure have resulted in guarantees for each type of use.

Minor modifications (seals, piping) is required for use at 100% pure, unless specifically guaranteed by car manufacturers.

The use of biodiesel as a transport fuel does not require any changes in the distribution system, therefore avoiding expensive infrastructure changes. Biodiesel is also used as an efficient heating oil.

Why use biodiesel?

Biodiesel has been demonstrated to have significant environmental benefits in terms of decreased global warming impacts, reduced emissions, greater energy independence and a positive impact on agriculture.

Various studies have estimated that the use of 1 kg of biodiesel leads to the reduction of some 3 kg of CO2. Hence, the use of biodiesel results in a significant reduction in CO2 emission (65%-90% less than conventional diesel), particulate emissions and other harmful emissions. Biodiesel is extremely low in sulphur, and has a high lubricity and fast biodegradability. These are all advantages which have been confirmed by various EC Commission programmes and tests of independent research institutes.

As such, an increased use of biodiesel in Europe represents an important step for the European Union to meet its emission reduction target as agreed under the Kyoto agreement. Additionally reducing pollutant emissions alleviates various human health problems.

In specific cases, used vegetable oils can be recycled as feedstock for biodiesel production. This can reduce the loss of used oils in the environment and provides a competitive and CO² advantageous way of transforming a waste into transport energy.

Biodiesel production also plays a useful role in agriculture. Under the current Common Agricultural Policy, the arable raw materials needed for biodiesel production may be grown on set-aside land, land which would otherwise be taken out of production.

Biodiesel production uses today around 3 million hectares of arable land in the EU.

Under appropriate economic conditions, biodiesel production could represent a significant absorbing potential for additional acreage resulting from the agricultural surfaces of the 10 new EU Member States and the forthcoming accession of Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia in the European Union.

Production of biodiesel in the EU

Biodiesel has been produced on an industrial scale in the European Union since 1992, largely in response to positive signals from the EU institutions. Today, there are approximately 120 plants in the EU producing approximately 11,000,000 tonnes of biodiesel annually. These plants are mainly located in Germany, Italy, Austria, France and Sweden.

Specific legislation to promote and regulate the use of biodiesel is in force in various countries including Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.

The EU has also published strict guidelines in compliance with CEN Standardisation (EN14214) in order to insure quality and performance.


EBB's role in the European Commission

With the above in mind, EBB has been invited by the European Commission to contribute to policy development to reach the set target within the framework of the European Climate Change Programme.



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Site last updated 24 March, 2021.