Biofuels continue to be an important transitional measure in the decarbonising of transport. The biofuel obligation, provided for under Part V of the National Oil Reserves Agency Act 2007 (as amended), 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) and will increase to 13% next year.
The Renewable Fuels for Transport Policy Statement which I published last month sets out a future trajectory of increase in biofuels use in land transport in line with Climate Action Plan targets to 2030, as well as a range of measures and incentives for future supply of renewable fuels such as biomethane and green hydrogen. My Department also intends, in early 2022, to carry out an assessment concerning the future availability of renewable fuels, which will inform implementation of this Policy beyond 2025.
The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA), as administrator of the biofuel obligation, publish monthly statistics on volumes (litres) of oil consumption which is subject to the NORA levy and Biofuel levy obligation. NORA and obligated parties under the biofuel obligation submit raw data on biofuels to the OLA (database) in the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, primarily in the context of blending biofuels with fossil fuels to adhere to the biofuel obligation.
In 2020, over 239 million litres of 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 biomethane were also placed on the market. Biofuels in transport replaced c. 209 million litres of fossil fuels and avoided approximately 520ktCO2eq greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030, under the targets set out in the Climate Action Plan 2021, biofuels will deliver approximately 18% of the GHG reductions projected in the transport sector.
While the reporting of biofuel supply is for road transport consumption currently, considering the future planned and potential demand for renewable fuels across all sectors, it is expected that biofuel volumes may be reported in the various transport sectors over the coming years. As indicated, the recently published Policy Statement includes a commitment to expand the biofuel obligation to the rail sector from 2024 or earlier, subject to the readiness of the rail sector.
The EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ package of proposals also set out increased ambitions for renewable energy across all sectors of the economy and transport modes. The proposals include directives that will increase the share of renewable fuel in land, aviation and maritime transport.