Netherlands mulls end to used cooking oil double-counting

Last week, the Dutch government held a session about the issue in light of the ongoing investigation into a Dutch biodiesel company. [Shutterstock]

An analysis of the “weak” points of the revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), combined with the results of an ongoing criminal investigation, will determine whether it is possible to end double-counting of used cooking oil (UCO) in energy used in transport, a Dutch spokesperson told EURACTIV.com.

According to RED II, UCO is double-counted, meaning, for instance, that if UCO’s consumption is 2%, it will be counted as 4% of the total energy used in transport. Thus, it’s an attractive solution for the member states who wish to meet their green transport goals.

But some investigations recently launched in the UK and the Netherlands into companies that have allegedly been selling unsustainable biodiesel containing palm oil have raised eyebrows in Brussels.

Critics suggest that there is a hidden link between UCO and palm oil, which is decided to be phased out because of its high-ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change) risk.

EU throws the ball to member states to monitor RED II implementation

The implementation of the revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) remains to a large extent the responsibility of the member states, EU sources told EURACTIV.com, in light of ongoing fraud investigations into the practice of mixing palm oil with cooking oil (UCO).

A source from the biofuel industry told EURACTIV last June that one-third of UCO used in Europe’s biofuels market is more than likely fraudulent. Angel Alberdi, secretary-general of EWABA, the EU waste-based biodiesel association gathering EU UCO collectors and producers of UCO-based biodiesel, denied the allegations.

“We reject in the strongest terms these allegations from an unnamed source. Unsubstantiated allegations such as this one are scandalously slanderous and to the benefit of our competitors who are trying to smear our industry for their own advantage,” he said.

Last week, the Dutch government held a session about the issue in light of the ongoing investigation into a Dutch biodiesel company.

“Before deciding on a course of action, we must know the exact nature and extent of the problem. So, in parallel with the ongoing criminal investigation into this fraud case, the Dutch government is conducting a full analysis to identify weak points in the application of the directive,” the Dutch spokesperson said.

“The results of this analysis, together with lessons from the criminal investigation and the possibilities offered by RED-II, will determine what changes to implement. Whether the solution includes ending the double counting of UCO will, therefore, be decided at a later stage,” the spokesperson added.

According to a letter sent to the Dutch parliament by the ministry of infrastructure and water management, the ministry said it would pay attention to the effects of various incentives, such as whether or not to continue double counting.

EURACTIV also contacted the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) and asked how situations similar to the alleged Dutch scandal could be addressed at the certification level.

“We are currently only aware of the fact that documents regarding the trading of so-called ‘biotickets’ have been manipulated. These biotickets are related to the domestic Dutch biofuel market as a country-specific system substituting sustainability declarations of EU recognised certification schemes,” ISCC said in an emailed response.

The CEO of Dutch company Biodiesel Kampen has already been convicted for trading biotickets without the corresponding quantities of biofuel actually reaching the Dutch market during the period from 2011 to 2014, ISCC added.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

 

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