Germany mulling withdrawal from crop-based biofuels by 2030

HAMBURG (Reuters) -Germany’s government is considering proposals to phase out the use of biofuels produced from food or animal feed crops by 2030, the German biofuels industry association (VDB) said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke speaks during a question period at a plenum session of lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

The environment ministry declined to comment. But sources close to the German federal government confirmed the proposals were for an end to production of crop-based biofuels by 2030.

German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said on Jan. 17 said she would soon send proposals to the cabinet for Germany to withdraw from use of crop-based biofuels.

Lemke instead wants to intensify the use of biofuels produced from garbage, wastes and used edible oil, saying food is too valuable to be used for fuel output.

The VDB, however, said draft proposals to cut crop-based biofuel use would mean an increase in Germany’s transport carbon dioxide emissions by around 32 million tonnes up to 2030.

Germany’s programme to cut greenhouse gases includes blending biofuels including biodiesel and bioethanol with diesel and gasoline to reduce emissions from road vehicles.

Oil companies have a greenhouse gas reduction target which they partly achieve with biodiesel often made from rapeseed oil or waste vegetable oils and bioethanol produced from grains or sugar.

Sources close to the German government said it was unacceptable that about 10 million tonnes of food and feed crops such as rapeseed, corn and soy were used to produced biofuels in a time of surging food prices amid the war in Ukraine.

Proposals are to reduce the maximum level of biofuel blending in German fossil fuels from 4.4% in 2023 to 2.3% in 2024 and 2.1% in 2025 to zero in 2030, sources said.

About 500,000 hectares of Germany’s total winter rapeseed area of 1.07 million hectares has been used in most years for biodiesel.

Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Vin Shahrestani and Mark Heinrich