The much-awaited re-visit of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) as part of the new Green Deal should get rid of “prejudices” and take advantage of technologies and products already placed on the market, a biodiesel stakeholder told EURACTIV.com in an interview.
“We need to understand that there are already available technologies and products which we should start to use without prejudices. If you ask me what I would change: complementing, not replacing. Don’t wait for the solution to come as many of them are already in our hands,” said Ewald-Marco Münzer, CEO of waste-based biodiesel company Münzer Bioindustrie GmbH.
The new Green Deal will basically open up a number of pieces of legislation, including RED II, and particularly the transport decarbonisation chapter.
Speaking at a EURACTIV event last November, Artur Runge-Metzger, director of the European Commission’s Climate Action directorate, said RED II has drawn “so much criticism” and it would be good for the EU executive to look at it again.
For Münzer, normative directives should be seen as an opportunity, not as a restriction. “We don’t need new regulations and directives. We just have to exploit the potential of what is possible,” he added.
Biodiesel can be used in its pure form (B100) or blended with petroleum diesel (B20 or B30).
According to Münzer, biodiesel stands for the largest contribution to CO2-reduction in the road transport sector – more than 1.6 million tons CO2-reduction in 2018 made by biofuels. He said there is enormous potential, especially in the agriculture sector with the full decarbonisation of tractors and machinery.
“There is a legal standard for B20 or B30, why don’t we find solutions to create a market for B20 or B30? Keyword B100 – in times of [COVID-19] crisis like this, to have the full possibility to use 100% regional and waste-based biodiesel opens new securities,” he said.
Biodiesel amid COVID-19 crisis
This week, oil prices went negative for the first time in history due to zero demand and COVID-19 lockdown measures worldwide. The waste-based biofuel industry has not been left unaffected, as restaurants are closed, resulting in reduced waste.
“There is consequently a strong and noticeable decrease of waste generation – in our case of Used Cooking Oil (UCO),” Münzer said, adding, though, that new opportunities were emerging.
“In times of a shortage of feedstock for hand sanitizer production, we started to sell our pharmaceutical glycerin directly to pharmacies and chemists,” he said.
“Waste-based biodiesel production is living circular economy. We start with waste collection and end up with three products and zero waste,” Münzer stressed, adding that in addition to biodiesel and glycerin, high-quality fertiliser (potassium sulphate) is produced, which is then also used in the chemical industry.
“Caused by the pre-treatment of the collected Used Cooking Oil there is also wastewater which is again processed to energy – in this case, Biogas.”
Coalition government came just on time
Münzer Bioindustrie GmbH is based in Austria, which last week became the second EU country after Belgium to exit coal after it closed its last coal-fired power plant.
For Münzer, Austria’s new conservative-Green coalition stepped in at the right moment for the Green Deal, as it brings together a clear environmental focus and a strong economic competence.
“This climate challenge will not be solved by one simple solution but by choosing the right package of measures. Our credo of complementing, not replacing, can also be found in the current government declaration.”
“Especially when it comes to decarbonising the road transport sector, there is no all-purpose weapon. We will need all possible and especially available technical solutions to be maybe in the position to reach this very ambitious targets,” Münzer concluded
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]