In a recently published study, the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, issued a devastating verdict on the future of biofuels in Germany, the EU, and the rest of the world. If the rationality for using biofuels is a reduction of CO2-emissions, its researchers argue, life-cycle-analyses (LCAs) of current technologies and processes show that most biofuels are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Considering all steps in production and use of biofuels, including fertilizers, labor and conversion, the study aggressively questions the reasonableness of EU’s 10 percent by 2020 biofuel goals in transportation. (The relevant EU directives are 2009/28/EC, 2009/29/EC, 2009/30/EC.) The study concludes that none of the existing the biofuel options execpt biogenic waste would sustainably help the climate.
Basically, this is not news. Biofuels have been heavily criticized by NGOs such as Greenpeace in the past, and continue to be a campaign target. In Germany, a country with famoulsy ambitious renewable energy targets, there is, however, in addition to these facts an increasingly solid scientific consensus that biofuels should not play a prominent role in the country’s energy transition. Nobel laureate Hartmut Michel of the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt told the F.A.Z. in an interview.”I don’t want to support the nonsense of biofuels.” The press is now mostly critizising biofules.
Ultimately the endgame for biofuels in Germany may be looming, because there is no public voice supporting them. The association safeguarding the industry’s interest on the federal level, Bundesverband Bioenergie e.V., issued a statement against the Leopoldina on their website, stressign the role biofuels can play in the transport sector. But was virtually unheard in the debate. And major industrial biofuel players aren’t taking part as well. If the industry does not publicly make the case why biofuels are necessary and beneficial for Germany’s energy transition, the renewable energy future in this country may be without biofuels.