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Jun 2020

Consultation on advanced feedstocks

The EU Commission (DG Ener) mandated a consortium led by E4tech to assist in the evaluation of biofuels feedstocks which could, in line with the article 28 of the REDII Directive, be added to the Annex IX. During the past two months and until May 24, stakeholders have been consulted about the potential inclusions to be made.

Through the past weeks, several operators from the biofuel industry have filed a form to provide elements for helping the Commission to select potential add-ons to the Annex IX* list. They received from the consortium a long-detailed list of feedstocks for which a pre-selection within a shortlist of potential winners was specified (as per the table below). The number of potential feedstocks is impressive, as the consortium wanted the consultation to be as broad as possible.

After this Task 1 of consultation, the consortium will review the contributions and “provide the European Commission with its conclusions with regards to whether each feedstock in the long list complies with the eligibility criteria.” Those six criteria are defined by the RED2 Article 28, as follows:

(a) the principles of the circular economy and of the waste hierarchy established in Directive 2008/98

(b) the sustainability criteria related to the land laid down in RED2 Article 29 (2 to 7)

(c) the need to avoid significant distortive effects on markets for by-products, wastes or residues

(d) the potential for delivering substantial GHG emissions savings

(e) the need to avoid negative impacts on the environment and biodiversity

(f) the need to avoid creating an additional demand for land

Interestingly, the guidance document sent to stakeholders clarifies that “with respect to the definition of residues, the consortium recognizes that there is not currently a single agreed understanding among Member States or the stakeholder community about how residue status should be determined. The consortium will consider residue status on a case-by-case basis.” This approach should leave some margin for interpretation and thus may increase the number of potential feedstocks to be shortlisted for the Commission at the end of the Task 2. The final Task (3) to be achieved by the consortium will be to assess the risk of fraud “associated with support for the use of new and existing Annex IX feedstocks.” The guidance says that “informed by consideration of documented cases of fraud, the consortium will establish a set of fraud risk indicators and consider options available to mitigate identified fraud risks.”

Within the detailed documentation sent to stakeholders, the consortium expressed the potential for 29 feedstocks to be shortlisted for a possible inclusion to the Annex IX. Some of them are already well known by biodiesel operators: PFAD, animal fats C3, Spent Bleaching Earth, Brown Greases and Technical Corn Oil (TCO). As several Member States have already set clear rules about the statute of PFAD, animal fats C3, and for some TCO (saying they are by-products with an economic value), it is rather surprising to find them as candidates to the shortlist. Another big surprise is the presence of damaged and intermediate crops. Although it would make sense to define non-useable crops as wastes, the huge certification challenges and potential frauds associated with this task would be too big to bear. The process until the Commission publishes a delegated act to change the list under Annex IX is still very long but it boosts solid hopes to give more options for the biodiesel industry to increase its supply of advanced fuels during the next decade.

*RED2 clearly states that “the Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 35 to amend the list of feedstock set out in Parts A and B of Annex IX by adding, but not removing, feedstock.”