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The Environmental Board starts to inspect the compliance of biofuels to sustainability criteria

Estonian cold nights and snowy winters might become a rare occasion due to climate change. Photo: Marit Kivisild
Estonian cold nights and snowy winters might become a rare occasion due to climate change. Photo: Marit Kivisild

As of 1 May 2018, the engine fuel sold in Estonia must contain at least 3.1% biofuel, the use of which helps decrease air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

“People have become increasingly mobile over the past decades. Using a private car is a daily activity for many Estonians as well. However, road transport is one of the biggest air pollutants and greenhouse gas emitters in Europe. For this reason, these issues must be mitigated by following the European Union Directives on fuel quality and renewable energy, and adopt alternative energy sources, biofuels,” said Rein Kalle, Head of the Environmental Department of the Environmental Board.

Biofuel is liquid or gaseous fuel made from biomass, used in means of transport. The most common biofuels, biodiesel and bioethanol, are made from agricultural products such as rapeseed or wheat, after which they are mixed in diesel fuel and engine petrol, respectively. In addition, an increasing amount of biofuel is made from waste and production waste, such as used cooking oil, manure or waste water sediment.

The task of the Environmental Board is to check that the marketed biofuels comply with various sustainability criteria. Fuel suppliers provide information on fuel released for consumption, its amount, raw produce and origin, as well as performance of sustainability criteria to the Environmental Board. Namely, biofuels must comply with certain criteria so that the use of fuel would result in the expected decrease of greenhouse gas emissions and the fuel production be as environmentally and nature-friendly as possible.

“Use of biofuel must result in at least 50% decrease of greenhouse gas emissions in comparison with the same amount of fossil fuels. We also monitor that the raw produce for biofuel is not collected from an area of high biodiversity or carbon reserves. As of 2019, a 7% limitation is imposed on first generation biofuels, meaning that biofuels manufactured from crops which could be used as a food source instead of fuel manufacture may not exceed 7% of all fuels released for consumption. In addition, it is recommended to manufacture biofuel from waste or production waste, as fuel made from this kind of raw produce has a bigger positive impact on the environment," Rein Kalle explained.

Transport fuels must contain at least 10% biofuel by 2020, wherein biofuel content is measured based on energy content of the fuel. Suppliers must also decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 6% by 2020 in comparison with 2010 – the primary way to achieve that is by using biofuel.

More information:
Rein Kalle
Head of the Environmental Department of the Environmental Board
telephone: 5063 384

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