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Biofuels for Transportation

The Renewable Energy Directive

The use of biofuels in the transportation sector is vital to the UK's plan to comply with the 2020 renewable energy targets in the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED)[3]. The RED requires the UK to source 10% of the energy used in transport from renewable sources by 2020.

Between 2010 and 2011, 1.4 billion litres of biofuel was supplied to the UK under the RTFO which was equivalent to 3.1% of total road transport fuel used within that period. Biodiesel and bioethanol accounted for 59% and 41% of the total share respectively, with a negligible amount taken by biogas (<0.1%)[4]. Biodiesel and biodiesel can be safely used in current road vehicles without additional modifications albeit in small quantities .

Types of feedstock

In 2011, the main feedstock contributors to bioethanol production in the UK included corn, wheat, sugar cane and sugar beet. In comparison, much cheaper sources such as used cooking oil, soy, oilseed rape and tallow formed the feedstock mix for biodiesel production. 

Left to right - UK sources of feedstock for bioethanol production (2011) and UK sources of feedstock for biodiesel production (2011)

Sources of biofuel to the UK

Most of the biofuels currently supplied to the UK are sourced domestically (22%), followed by imports from the USA (17%), Argentina (13%), Germany (9%), Netherlands (9%) and Spain (6%).


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