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Energy

Biofuels

The EU is working on the transition towards advanced biofuels made from sustainable feedstock.

Biofuels are liquid or gaseous transport fuels, such as biodiesel and bioethanol, made from biomass. They serve as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels in the EU's transport sector, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the EU's security of supply.

Biofuels and biogas in co-processed fuels

The Commission adopted in June 2023 new rules establishing the share of biofuels and biogas in mixed fuels, co-processed using bio-based and fossil-based raw materials, and that can count towards the Renewable Energy Directive target for renewables in transport. The Delegated Regulation (EU/2023/1640) was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 18 August 2023 and has been subject to public feedback, several consultations and scrutiny from the European Parliament and the Council.

Union Database for Biofuels

Since 15 January 2024, the Commission’s Union Database for Biofuels (UDB) is open for online registration by the relevant economic operators of transactions of liquid renewable and recycled carbon fuels. The database was foreseen under Article 31a of the 2018 Renewable Energy Directive to improve traceability of biofuels, avoid double counting, and address concerns about fraud.

The Union database is a global traceability tool to trace consignments of renewable and recycled carbon fuels and the respective raw materials used for their production - from the point of origin of the raw materials to the point where fuels are put on the EU market for final consumption. It will help ensure market transparency and traceability in the supply chain for such fuels, mitigating the risk of irregularities and fraud and thereby supporting efforts to meet the ambitious EU decarbonisation targets. 

For more technical  information, see Union Database for Biofuels (UDB) - EC Public Wiki

Sustainability criteria

The revised Renewable Energy Directive (EU/2023/2413) provides an overarching policy for the promotion and use of energy from renewable sources in the EU. It also reinforces the sustainability criteria of bioenergy through different provisions, including the negative direct impact that the production of biofuels may have due to indirect land use change.

While biofuels are important in helping the EU meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets, biofuel production typically takes place on cropland that was previously used for agriculture, to grow food or feed. Since this agricultural production is still necessary, biofuel production may lead to the extension of agricultural land into non-crop land, possibly including areas with high carbon stock, such as forests, wetlands and peatlands. This process is known as indirect land use change (ILUC). As it may cause the release of CO2 stored in trees and soil, ILUC poses a risk to the greenhouse gas savings that result from increased production of biofuels.

To address the issue of ILUC, the revised directive introduces a new approach by setting limits on high ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels with a significant expansion in land with high carbon stock. These limits affect the amount of these fuels that EU countries can count towards their national targets when calculating the overall national share of renewables and the share of renewables in transport. EU countries will still be able to use (and import) fuels covered by these limits, but they will not be able to include these volumes when calculating the extent to which they have fulfilled their renewable targets. These limits impose a freeze equivalent to 2019 levels for the period 2021-2023, which will gradually decrease from the end of 2023 to zero by 2030. The directive also introduces an exemption to these limits for biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels certified as low ILUC-risk.

For the implementation of this approach, as required by the directive, the Commission adopted the Delegated Regulation on indirect land-use change ((EU) 2019/807), in which it lays down provisions to determine the high ILUC-risk feedstock for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high carbon stock is observed. It also sets out criteria to certify low ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels.

The Commission adopted in 2019 an accompanying report on the status of production expansion of relevant food and feed crops worldwide (COM/2019/142), based on the best available scientific data. It provides information that EU countries can use jointly with the criteria set out in the delegated act in order to identify high ILUC-risk fuels and certify low ILUC-risk fuels.

Furthermore, specific rules and methodological guidance for certification of low ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels have been included in the Implementing Regulation on sustainability certification proposed by the Commission in line with Article 30(8) of the revised directive. The Implementing Regulation received on a positive vote by the Committee on the sustainability of biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels on 10 March 2022, and was published in the Official Journal on 27 June 2022.

Quality standards for biofuels

Working together with the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), the EU aims to develop and improve the technical quality standards of biofuels and biofuel blends for vehicle engines. The practical work is carried out by CEN Technical Committee 19, consisting of experts from the automotive and fuel industries, biofuels producers, and other stakeholders.

Reports on emissions from cultivation of raw materials for use in biofuels

Article 31 (2-4) of the Renewable Energy Directive (EU/2018/2001), as amended by Directive (EU) 2023/2413 requires that EU countries and third countries submit reports of cultivation emissions to the Commission. The reports should include a list of areas on their territory, which are classified as NUTS2, or at a more disaggregated NUTS level (equivalent size for territories outside the EU), where the typical greenhouse gas emissions from cultivation of agricultural raw materials could be expected to be lower than - or equal to - the emissions reported under the heading ‘Disaggregated default values for cultivation’ in part D of Annex V to the directive. They should also be  accompanied by a description of the method and data used to establish such list.

The Commission may decide, by means of an implementing act, that reports submitted by EU countries and by countries outside the EU contain accurate data for the purposes of measuring the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the cultivation of biofuel and bioliquid feedstocks typically produced in those areas.

These reports and Implementing Acts are listed below

The Post-ILUC Directive NUTS2 or equivalent reports of cultivation emissions, are published on a separate page.

In addition, the Commission has positively assessed the applications for recognition of the calculation of typical greenhouse gas emissions from the cultivation of agricultural raw materials (for the purposes of Article 31 (2-4) of Directive (EU) 2018/2001) of the following EU countries

  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark

Please contact the responsible authority in the respective EU country for further details on the Commission’s positive technical assessment. The positive technical assessment is the first step in the legal recognition of an EU country’s NUTS2-values. The relevant implementing decision, once adopted, will be published in the official journal and on this website.

The 2010-2015 reports can be found at

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