The end of biofuels makes fuel more expensive: soon no more E10 petrol at gas stations?

Federal Environment Minister Lemke wants to gradually ban biofuels from Germany by 2030. However, green admixtures not only reduce CO2, but also influence the price of petrol. Until they are banned, alternatives such as e-fuels and fuel from waste should be created.

As early as 2022, Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) announced that she wanted to end the admixture of biofuels. “By 2030, the plan is to gradually phase out biofuels obtained from plants for food and animal feed,” reports the “FAZ” from a current draft law.

“The minister’s draft envisages that biofuel from grain and oil plants will no longer count towards the obligations that the mineral oil industry has to meet to reduce CO2 emissions,” according to the FAZ. The admixture of plants such as rapeseed, maize, wheat or soy is to be reduced from the current 4.4 percent to zero by 2030.

With admixtures, such as the super fuel E10 with a higher bio content, the CO2 emissions are reduced due to the lower fossil content. For drivers, E10 is cheaper than E5, currently the difference is between 5 and 10 cents per liter. What the end of biofuels would mean for the price of petrol remains unclear for the time being.

The organic admixtures are also part of the CO2 reduction in the transport sector. “Lowering the upper limit for biofuels would lead to a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions in transport,” said a spokesman for Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) to the “FAZ”.

According to the ADAC, the abolition of the admixture of biofuels will tend to make fuels more expensive. “Super E10 currently offers a price advantage of six cents per liter compared to normal premium petrol with up to five percent ethanol. If organic shares were withdrawn, this price advantage would be void,” said ADAC spokesman Andreas Hölzel to FOCUS online.

Surf tip: Super petrol – fill up or mix cheaper E10 instead of E5, can I do that?

The background to the Greens’ initiative is the long-standing “food instead of fuel” discussion: no incentives should be created to cultivate plants for fuel production instead of food production. Biofuel – the Greens speak of “agrofuel” – stands for land use and loss of biological diversity. Agricultural land would also be needed abroad.

The Association of the Oilseed Processing Industry in Germany (OVID) disagrees: “Through the production of biofuels, food in the form of eggs, butter or meat also ends up on the plate through feeding. The same applies to energy imports. Biofuels reduce dependence on fossil fuels. This is particularly true against the background of the Ukraine war and imports from autocratic countries like Russia,” said the association in response to Lemke’s initiative.

Experts from agriculture also disagree with Lemke and the Minister of Agriculture, Cem Özdemir. The “FAZ” reports: “In the production of biofuels, high-quality protein feed is obtained, emphasized Association President Joachim Rukwied on Thursday at the ‘International Green Week’ in Berlin. ‘So something ends up on the plate during production,’ Rukwied clarified.”

However, the Greens are also standing in their own way when it comes to solving the problem, because they continue to vehemently reject the crediting of climate-neutral fuels, so-called e-fuels : The electric car lobby, which is closely linked to the Greens, fears that the introduction of alternative fuels will reduce the business with electric vehicles and reduce their subsidy pots.

However, Environment Minister Lemke is open to another option: biofuels from waste and residues, such as used chip fat or liquid manure. This fuel already exists in smaller quantities, such as the artificial diesel “HVO”.

Christian Nikolai from the company “FuelMotion” welcomes Lemke’s foray into other fuel alternatives. But action must now follow. “The next, logical step can only be that the Federal Environment Ministry undertakes the long overdue inclusion of EN15940 fuels in the 10.BImSchV. In concrete terms, this means that synthetic, bio-based fuels – primarily HVO – are finally finding their way legally to the pumps in Germany,” Nikolai told FOCUS online. Currently, sales in Germany are only permitted in so-called closed circuits, such as authorities, municipalities and company fleets – in contrast to other EU countries, where every driver can fill up with eco-fuel.

“Sweden, for example, has drastically reduced emissions from the transport sector with the introduction of HVO. The CO2 reduction potential is 90% on average. It would be a pity if the concentration on an area-wide electrification of the transport sector took away our chance to reach our climate goals faster with the diesel engine from the very first tank of fuel,” says Nikolai.

Whatever Germany wants to replace the fossil fuel share with in the future, it has to be a lot of it. Germany alone needs 15 million tons of petrol for cars and another 30 million tons of diesel for cars and especially trucks every year. Although this amount is reduced every year due to the growing proportion of electric cars, it is unlikely to be sufficient for the climate targets set by the traffic light.

The greenhouse gas reduction quota (GHG quota) obliges the mineral oil industry to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its fuels by a certain percentage compared to 2010. Overall, the petroleum industry significantly exceeded the German GHG quota in 2021. According to current information from the General Customs Directorate (GZD), a total of more than 15 million tons of CO2 reduction were offset. This corresponds to a reduction of 7.26 percent. Only six percent was required by law. Biodiesel, bioethanol and biomethane made the greatest contribution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 11.1 million tons of CO2.

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