Fleet News

Biofuel protest over subsidies

The European Biodiesel Board is threatening formal complaints to the European Commission and the World Trade Organisation about what it says are unfair subsidies enjoyed by American biodiesel producers.

Under the so-called ‘splash-and-dash’ system, US biodiesel attracts $264/cubic metre in American subsidies when a “drop” of mineral diesel is added.

These “blends” are then exported to the European Union, qualifying for subsidy schemes there, too.

This threatens the growth of EU biodiesel production, said the board: 700,000 tonnes of US methyl-ester have entered the EU since January 2007, compared to just 90,000 tonnes for all of 2006.

“This sharp increase in exports is only explainable by unfair support measures,” said the board.

Meanwhile, two of Europe’s biggest carmakers, Volkswagen and the recently renamed, Daimler, have both acquired a shareholding in Choren Industries, confirming their commitment to introduce second-generation biofuel-powered cars.

In a statement, they said they are committed to the widespread market introduction of BTL (biomass to liquid), a second-generation synthetic fuel.

Choren is currently building the world’s first commercial industrial scale BTL plant at its German site.

From 2008, the plant is expected to produce some 15,000 tonnes of fuel a year – sufficient to meet the annual requirements of 15,000 vehicles.

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