62 countries have policies to support renewable fuels — advocacy group

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013

Sixty-two countries now have policies in place to spur the use and development of biofuels, according to research and advocacy group Global Renewable Fuels Alliance.

Most of the policies set a specific mandatory or voluntary percentage level of ethanol that must be blended into transportation fuel, such as in the European Union, where 10 percent of transportation fuel must be made from renewable sources. One of the more recent federal policies was enacted in India, where policymakers set a mandate that fuel contain 5 percent ethanol. The mandate increases to 20 percent by 2017.

“It is amazing to watch the growth of the biofuels industry from a global perspective,” said Bliss Baker, a spokesman for the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance. “Today, governments have embraced biofuels in every corner of the world, from Australia to Zimbabwe. Enacting biofuels-friendly policies in developing countries and growing economies like India will be crucial for the continued growth of the global biofuels industry and reducing our reliance on crude imports.”

According to the alliance, seven countries in South America now have biofuels policies. The most aggressive are in Paraguay, which has a mandate that ethanol make up 24 percent of motor fuel, and Brazil, which has a current mandate of 20 percent ethanol and 5 percent biodiesel.

Ten countries in Africa and nine in Asia, including India, also have biofuels policies in place.

According to the alliance, the U.S. renewable fuel standard is the only policy to mandate that a specific volume — 36 billion gallons of biofuels a year by 2022 — be blended into motor fuel, rather than a percentage. The reliance of the standard on set yearly volumes has been one of the main criticisms used by foes on Capitol Hill, because it essentially forces refiners to blend biofuels into gasoline at higher percentages than they see as technically feasible.

The E.U. biofuels mandate is also facing pressure, and legislation to limit biofuels made from food crops to 5 percent of transportation fuel is currently making its way through the European Parliament (Greenwire, July 11).