EU cleaner-car proposals slammed for too few electric cars, too much biodiesel


A new package of laws drafted by the European Commission aims to reduce consumption of fossil fuels within the European Union.

Called "Clean Energy for All Europeans," the plan calls for emissions reductions in both the transportation and energy sectors, as well as increased use of renewable energy for electricity generation, and biodiesel for transportation fuel.

But the plan is being heavily criticized from multiple directions.

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Both the auto industry and at least one environmental group are slamming the European Union plan, for different reasons, according to Wards Auto.

The plan includes provisions that EU members generate at least 27 percent of their electricity form renewable sources, and develop transportation fuels that produce at least 70 percent fewer emissions than fossil fuels.

The European Commission hopes to achieve the transportation-fuels target in large part from biofuels that aren't made from crops used for food.

Big square baler harvesting wheat straw for production of cellulosic ethanol

Big square baler harvesting wheat straw for production of cellulosic ethanol

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This is to prevent large-scale biofuel production from interfering with the food supply.

It proposed capping the amount of food-based biofuels used to meet the target at 7 percent in 2021, and reducing it to 3.8 percent in 2030.

At the same time, it would raise the share of "advanced biofuels and renewable-transport fuels" from 1.5 percent in 2021 to 6.8 percent in 2030.

ALSO SEE: As VW pledges more electric cars, it supports biofuels as alternative

The minimum share for advanced biofuels would also increase from 0.5 percent to 3.6 percent over the same period.

Automakers are not opposed to increased deployment of biodiesel, but they are concerned that the definition of "advanced biofuels" in the European Commission plan leaves room for too wide a variety of feedstocks.

Fuels that contain fatty-acid methyl ester (FAME) can clog fuel filters, especially in cold weather, said the ACEA, a trade group that represents European automakers.

2017 Renault Zoe

2017 Renault Zoe

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The ACEA is concerned that fuel producers will take advantage of the broad definition used by the plan and produce fuels that will cause problems with current diesel engines, a spokesperson told Wards Auto.

Meanwhile, environmental group Transport & Environment believes the European Commission should focus less on biodiesel, and more on electric cars.

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The group criticized the European Commission for "favoring unproven biofuels over clean electricity for transport."

T&E called for a target based on a specific level of greenhouse-gas emissions to promote cleaner fuels, as well as a renewable-electricity generation target, and targets for individual types of biofuels.

Bollore BlueCars recharging at Paris curb for the Autolib electric-car sharing service, Sep 2016

Bollore BlueCars recharging at Paris curb for the Autolib electric-car sharing service, Sep 2016

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Automotive emissions will be detailed more extensively in a follow-up proposal, which will not be released until the entire package of proposals is debated at an upcoming European Council heads of government meeting.

One proposal already made would require commercial buildings with more than 10 parking spaces to have electric-car charging stations by 2025.

However, an earlier draft had the deadline at 2023, and T&E notes that the proposal says nothing about charging stations along highways and at public places in urban areas.

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