Sustainability criteria

Sustainability criteria

Proposal for updated sustainability criteria for biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels

The Commission's November 2016 proposal for a revised Renewable Energy Directive includes updated sustainability criteria for biofuels used in transport and bioliquids, and solid and gaseous biomass fuels used for heat and power. Annexes V and VI include updated greenhouse gas emission accounting rules and default values.

Technical background studies for the preparation of the Impact Assessment on the Sustainability of Bioenergy:

Joint Research Centre report with the input values for calculating the greenhouse gas emission savings of biofuels and bioliquids: Main report | Annex | Database

Information on the input values for calculating the greenhouse gas emission savings of solid and gaseous biomass fuels can be found here.

Current sustainability criteria for biofuels

The EU has defined a set of sustainability criteria to ensure that the use of biofuels (used in transport) and bioliquids (used for electricity and heating) is done in a way that guarantees real carbon savings and protects biodiversity. Only biofuels and bioliquids that comply with the criteria can receive government support or count towards national renewable energy targets.

The main criteria

  • To be considered sustainable, biofuels must achieve greenhouse gas savings of at least 35% in comparison to fossil fuels. This savings requirement rises to 50% in 2017. In 2018, it rises again to 60% but only for new production plants. All life cycle emissions are taken into account when calculating greenhouse gas savings. This includes emissions from cultivation, processing, and transport.
  • Biofuels cannot be grown in areas converted from land with previously high carbon stock such as wetlands or forests.
  • Biofuels cannot be produced from raw materials obtained from land with high biodiversity such as primary forests or highly biodiverse grasslands.