EU renewable ethanol plants saw greater feed output than fuel in 2021

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Sue Barr
© GettyImages/Sue Barr

Related tags biofuels Protein

European renewable ethanol industry representatives, ePURE, say its members produced more animal feed than ethanol last year, citing audited data.

The new data on ethanol production was compiled from ePURE members and was certified by auditing firm, Copartner.

“For the first time, ePURE members produced more animal feed co-products (4.48 million tons) than renewable ethanol (4.40 million tons).

“The audit also showed record-high GHG-saving performance of ePURE members’ ethanol – 77% compared to fossil petrol – confirming that ethanol production contributes to EU food security and offsets fossil fuel use.”

ePURE data food and fuel
© ePure June 2022

Food security debate

Renewable ethanol is manufactured in a biorefinery by fermenting sugars into alcohol. In the EU, these sugars typically come from a variety of agricultural sources such as wheat, corn, barley, rye, triticale, and sugar beet.

ePure maintains that the EU renewable ethanol industry’s contribution to food security often goes overlooked or misrepresented in discussions over the future of biofuels.

“The ethanol production process creates high-protein, GMO-free animal feed in addition to GHG-saving fuel ethanol and captured CO2. This domestic production is a win-win for Europe’s energy independence and food security.”

However, the food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine has reignited the food versus biofuel debate.

June's meeting of G7 countries saw Germany propose a temporary waiver on biofuel mandates for road transport to help free up land for growing crops. But it did not achieve widespread agreement, with strong resistance for the idea reportedly coming from the US and Canada. The UK was allegedly supportive of the proposal.

Last month, the EU Council rowed in behind European Commission proposals, backing a 7% crop-based biofuels cap ​in the Renewable Energy Directive.

And Le Monde recently published an op-ed​ by David Laborde, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Christopher Gouel, research director at French public research institute INRAE as well as scientific advisor at CEPII. The authors claimed that the loss of Ukrainian agricultural production can be partly compensated by ceasing to support biofuels. The climate benefit of biofuels is much lower than originally thought, they added.

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