– BEST is one of the best projects we have financed, claimed Magda Kopczynska, DG TREN, noting that unlike many other European projects, BEST also looked outside the EU.
– These issues must be viewed in a global context. Biofuels are a very promising candidate, but we are also aware of several obstacles – including that they are not yet competitive. Thus we must have a stable long-term strategy.
Presenting and discussing the BEST findings. Imke Lübekke of the WWF; Gustaf Landahl, coordinator of BEST; Lena Ek, MEP and host for the meeting and Magda Kopczynska, DG TREN.
Gustaf Landahl, City of Stockholm and coordinator of the BEST project, presented key findings from BEST: ethanol cars and buses function well, drivers are satisfied and energy efficiency is slightly higher using E85 than using petrol—and can be improved further. Detailed analysis of ethanol used in the BEST project revealed significant differences in greenhouse gas emission savings, from 4 to 79 percent.
Jonas Strömberg, Scania, admits that using biofuels requires new training in maintenance, inspections and safety regulations but does not consider this to be a barrier. The major barrier to large-scale introduction of ethanol buses according to Strömberg, is the relative level of biofuel taxes and the lack of standardized administrative procedures.
WWF: Map land suitable for biofuels
Imke Lübbeke, World Wildlife Foundation, called the renewable energy directive a pioneering step for the European Commission and the Parliament.
- But it is not ready yet. Implementation is the key, and some issues need urgent clarification to ensure that the market can meet the rapidly increasing demand for ethanol in a sustainable way.
Protecting high biodiversity grasslands is one important issue. WWF suggests mapping areas where biofuels can be cropped with low risk for adverse indirect land use. This must include stakeholder participation to ensure acceptance in civil society.
Lübbeke underscored that the implementation framework for the renewable energy directive must be ready by 2011 for decision by the Parliament in 2012. She urged the European Parliament and Commission to make the process transparent and ensure NGO participation.
New fuels important to achieve 2020 goals
Lena Ek, MEP and host for the BEST meeting in the Parliament, was more optimistic:
– Projects like BEST show that it is a piece of cake to achieve the 2020 goals. New fuels are important. They can provide environmental benefits, reduce import dependence and increase security of supply.
The agricultural industry, says Ek, has the potential to become the first climate neutral sector. She stressed the importance of distinguishing between sustainable and unsustainable ethanol. She recommends a flexible certification process taking national and regional sustainability goals and preconditions into consideration. Finally, she urged all project partners to discuss the BEST findings with their own politicians to inspire them to create a long term framework to support greener transportation.