The 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive set a binding target on all Member States to achieve at least 10% renewable energy in transport by 2020. The increased deployment of Electric Vehicles will help in this regard but, it is clear that the primary means of meeting this target for all Member States will be by the increased use of biofuels.
The Biofuel Obligation Scheme was introduced in July 2010 and works by obligating large road transport fuel suppliers to bring a certain amount of biofuels to the market. From the start of this year, I have increased the obligation on fuel suppliers to include at least 6% by volume biofuels in their overall annual disposal of road transport fuels from the initial obligation rate of 4%. The legislative basis for the obligation itself is provided for in the National Oil Reserves Agency Act, 2007 (as amended by the 2010 Energy (Biofuel Obligation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act). I did not directly consult with Irish Aid in the issue of the increased obligation.
Under Section 44D of the Act, before amending the rate of obligation, I was required to consult with the Minister for Finance, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, the National Oil Reserves Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Standards Authority of Ireland and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. I also consulted with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as well as Biofuel Obligation account holders and motoring organisations such as the Automobile Association (AA) and the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI). Before I made the order to increase the rate, a draft of the order was posted on my Department’s website for 28 days with an invitation to interested parties to make representations on the proposed increase.
I would stress that I do share the concerns that biofuel production, unless properly regulated, can have a negative impact on food production, and on food prices. All biofuels counted as part of the scheme must comply with the sustainability criteria set out in the Renewable Energy Directive.