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ALTRAN Brings Forward a Way to a Sound European Biofuel Strategy

The Altran Group took part in the consultation process on the Energy Policy for Europe and expressed its point of view on the biofuels strategy of the European Union. On April 20 2007, the European Commission launched a European-wide public consultation on how to tackle the Biofuel issue in respect to the new European legislation on the promotion of renewable energy.

Altran contributed in July of last year to the European Commission's Public Consultation on the European Biofuels Strategy. This year’s contribution consisted in presenting the ideal design of a biofuel sustainability scheme, the best way to monitor the overall effects on land use and how to promote the use of second-generation biofuels. According to Altran, one of the main obstacles to the development of sustainable biofuel use in the EU is the lack of competitive prices. Financial support for sustainable biofuels would therefore be needed in order to guarantee their competitive advantage, particularly to prevent the excessive use of non-sustainable biofuels. (A ban on non-sustainable biofuels on the market should be considered or other legislative measures could be taken into consideration in order to reduce the use of unsustainable biofuels). A biofuel sustainability scheme would put an administrative burden on the Member States or other entities, since they would be responsible for the implementation of the “sustainability criteria”. However, it is necessary to implement such a system and oblige biofuel producers to submit a file proving that their product respects the “sustainability criteria”. Altran believes that other aspects such as traceability, which guarantees the biodiversity of the biofuel production, must also be considered. Indeed, sustainability includes ensuring the welfare and prosperity of local communities, as well as avoiding the pollution of the local environment. Regarding the best way to monitor the overall effects on land use, Altran’s proposal is to submit every new plantation of raw materials for the production of biofuels to a survey, including questions about needs in biofuels, current land use and alternative evolutions of land use. Furthermore, second-generation biofuels should be rated according to their Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which should state the maximum of CO2 emitted (and other Greenhouse gases), performance (energy content and usage), other emissions (air quality), etc. per generation of the fuel. Obligations could then be defined in terms of biofuel performance criteria (energy and GHG savings) that rate the second-generation biofuel imprint obtained by the LCA. Consequently, subsidies could be related to the performance of biofuels. In order to encourage the use of ethanol and biodiesel in high blends as well as biofuels, legislations should include measures to ensure that diesel contains 10% biodiesel. However, it must be ensured that the automotive market can absorb this development. Legislations should ask the Commission to review, first by the beginning of 2010, then every 3 years, whether it is possible to achieve the 10% target for the share of biofuels in petrol and diesel in each Member State as previously established. Regarding the role of taxation, it is hard to estimate the possible impact since taxation is handled at the Member State level. If applied, it should be determined on the basis of performance as well as sustainability parameters. The principle of “the polluter pays” should then also be applied. The contribution was brought forward by members of two major Altran group companies in Europe, namely by Timothy Soetens, Lead Consultant at Altran Europe as well as Elske Van De Fliert, Bram Ledeboer and David Grote Beverborg, all of them consultants at Altran Technologies Netherlands.Background: On January 10th 2007 the European Commission submitted proposals for a new Energy Policy for Europe. These included a renewable energy roadmap proposing: • a binding 20% target for the overall share of renewable energy in 2020 – the effort to be shared in an appropriate way between Member States; • a binding 10% target for the share of biofuels in petrol and diesel in each Member State in 2020, to be accompanied by the introduction of a sustainability scheme for biofuels. The Commission is now drafting proposals to incorporate these targets in legislation.