Biodiesel in the EU: Past, Present and Future
by Azriyah Azian
Biodiesel is the most important biofuel in the EU, representing about 70% of the total transport biofuels market. The first biofuel was developed and used in the transport sector in the 1990s. EU biofuels goals set out in directive 2003/30/EC (indicative goals) and in the RED 2009/28/EC (mandatory goals) further pushed the use of biodiesel.

The EU is the world’s leading biodiesel producer with output increasing from 10.18 MMT in 2013 to an estimated 10.35 MMT in 2014; spearheaded by Germany and France, who in total produced an estimated 4.75 MMT in 2014 or 46% of total biodiesel production in the region.

However, market growth for biodiesel has slowed considerably since 2009 as EU policy moves away from supporting biofuels produced from food feedstocks such as rapeseed oil. Domestic biodiesel production peaked in 2010 but has since declined (2011-2013) because of the influx of cheaper biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia.

There are a few other factors that are driving the EU biodiesel sector apart from the current RED mandates. One of them includes the choices of feedstocks. Rapeseed oil is still the dominant feedstock but its share of EU biodiesel production diminished from 63% in 2008 to 55% in 2013. Palm oil has gained its market share since 2009 due to its price competitiveness. Used cooking oil’s market share has also soared as a result of the double-counting measure.

This paper also reviews the challenges that are faced by palm oil, future outlook and strategic recommendations to boost Malaysian palm oil exports in the EU biodiesel sector.
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