I propose to take Questions Nos. 239, 243 and 244 together.
Renewable transport fuels are, and will continue to be, an important transitional measure in the decarbonising of transport. In 2020, biofuels in transport replaced c. 209 million litres of fossil fuels and avoided approximately 520ktCO2eq greenhouse gas emissions.
The biofuels obligation, provided for under Part V of the National Oil Reserves Agency Act 2007, requires fuel suppliers to include a certain proportion of biofuels in fuels for use in road transport. Currently, the biofuel obligation rate is 11% (i.e., not less than 11 litres in every 100 litres of road transport fuel is biofuel).
In 2020, over 239 million litres of such biofuels were placed on the Irish road transport fuel market, mainly biodiesel and ethanol and to a lesser extent bio-liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Small quantities of bio-methane were also placed on the market, but as a developing technology bio-methane does not currently fall within the biofuel obligation.
I intend to publish a Renewable Fuels for Transport Policy Statement shortly which will set out the future trajectory of increase in renewable fuels use in land transport, including future indicative blending rates for biofuels in diesel and petrol to deliver targets under the Climate Action Plan. This aligns to our international obligations to reduce emissions in the transport sector, which in the future will involve renewable fuels obligations for aviation and maritime as set out under the EU Fit for 55 proposals.
The Renewable Fuels for Transport Policy will seek to incentivise deployment of developing alternative fuels such as bio-methane and green hydrogen to a greater extent in the transport sector in the future. In the road transport sector, this will be complemented through existing supporting measures such as the alternatively fuelled heavy duty vehicles grant, the accelerated capital allowance scheme for natural gas propelled vehicles and related equipment, which will include hydrogen vehicles and equipment, and the reduced excise rate on natural gas.
All biofuels placed on the market are required to meet strict sustainability criteria as set out in the European Renewable Energy Directive. The Directive place limits on biofuels produced from crop-based feedstock, and a timeline for phasing-out supply of any biofuels produced from feedstock determined to be a high risk under indirect land-use change (ILUC). In addition, the European Commission is currently developing a central database to track and trace biofuel feedstock.
The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA), which administers the biofuel obligation, may only issue certificates for biofuels placed on the market in Ireland where the supplier can demonstrate compliance with sustainability and proof of origin criteria.
Implementation of the Renewable Fuel for Transport Policy will be subject to consultation with industry in 2022, and then every two years over the course of the pathway to 2030. My Department also intends, in 2022, to carry out an assessment concerning the future availability of renewable fuels, which will inform implementation of the Policy beyond 2025.