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Give refineries praise – not criticism for investing in biofuels

Transport & Environment has been derailed as an environmental organization – it harms the climate and the EU's development.

Transport & Environment opposes the work to reduce climate emissions. Photo: iStock

In a press release from January 11, the organization criticizes the European refineries for making eight times as much investment in the production of biofuels as in the production of hydrogen.

– The refineries should not be criticized, but instead praised for making extensive investments in technology that works, that is cost-effective and that provides large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from our existing vehicle fleet here and now, says Gustav Melin, CEO at Svebio.

Commendable investment in biofuels

The refineries’ investment in biofuels is commendable. T&E writes that biofuels are the “simple but unsustainable alternative” while hydrogen is described as a “genuine green fuel”.

It is grossly misleading as all living cells on this planet depend on bioenergy and its combustion of it. Biofuels are no less renewable than green hydrogen or renewable electro-fuels, and in Europe their sustainability is guaranteed through strict sustainability criteria.

The best option today

Commissioned by T&E, the aim of the “What Future Role for Conventional Refineries in the Decarbonisation Transition?” report by the consulting company Ricardo, is to “understand the operation of the current refinery system and what role it can play in hydrogen and synthetic fuels production (as well as the production of advanced biofuels), and the associated challenges.”

It is used as evidence by T&E for criticism of refineries, yet the report shows in reality that biofuels are the best option today.

According to the report, a “comparison of the capital costs of new build e-fuels plants with new build HVO plants identifies the e-fuel plant CAPEX is expected to be 5 times higher than the HVO plant.” Only in the long term are there hopes that hydrogen and e-fuels will become cost-competitive as technologies mature. The conclusion from the report should be to invest more in biofuels in order to exploit and develop the huge sustainable potential.

– It goes without saying that refineries invest in those options that are effective and work. Biofuels reduce carbon dioxide emissions at the lowest cost and provide acceptable air quality in cities when using modern internal combustion engines, says Gustav Melin.

– Only an environmental organization that lacks an understanding of economic realities, or wants to harm the EU, can make the case for a technology that is five times as expensive resulting in very high costs for consumers and taxpayers in the form of high fuel prices or through higher taxes.

Campaign against biofuels

T&E has for many years conducted a virulent campaign against biofuels and for electrification. The criticism of refineries with an ambition to produce sustainable fuels is yet another example of the organization’s one-sidedness that hampers real climate work.

The campaign against biofuels is run together with other organizations at the EU level, but without any real scientific basis. The consequence is however, that politicians in the EU have introduced restrictions on biofuels that lead to the unnecessary emissions of many millions of tonnes of fossil carbon dioxide every year.

For example, the development of energy crops has been halted, despite the fact that more than 10 million hectares of arable land in the EU are considered surplus to food production requirements. Increased cultivation of energy crops would provide employment and income for farmers in sparsely populated areas and also replace imports of fossil energy into the EU.

Questionable agenda

– It is high time to question T&E’s agenda and role. T&E’s activities to stop effective climate work have significant resources behind them including financing from EU public funds as well as lobby funding from the Norwegian development agency NORAD, and private foundations in the United Kingdom and the United States, says Gustav Melin.

According to its statutes, T&E’s objective is to “promote a policy of transport and accessibility, based on the principles of sustainable development, which minimizes negative impact on the environment and health, use of energy and land and all economic and social costs maximizes safety and guarantees sufficient access for all.”

This an objective that T&E time and time again fails miserably on with its vehement, emotive, and unfounded opposition to sustainable biofuels.

For more information, please contact Gustav Melin, CEO, Swedish Bioenergy Association: +46705244400

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