Brussels gets new ethanol trade association

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The European ethanol industry has a new representative following the establishment of the Industrial Ethanol Association (IEA) in Brussels, giving manufacturers of synthetic ethanol – derived from oil and gas – a voice alongside their counterparts in the agricultural sector.

The IEA comprises synthetic ethanol producers INEOS, Petro SA Europe and Sasol Solvents Germany, and aims to “represent the interests of the sector to policymakers and other industry groups in order to promote fair competition and maintain a healthy European ethanol market”. 

The IEA begs to differ from other European associations representing agricultural ethanol producers, who have attracted mounting criticism from environmental NGOs (EURACTIV 18/10/07). 

Describing the difference between the varieties of ethanol, IEA Secretary-General Emmanuel Desplechin said: “IEA member companies produce synthetic ethanol, derived from fossil fuels [such as coal and gas], for use on the industrial market, in high-value products such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints and inks.” 

Synthetic ethanol is also used in industrial chemical products, including screen wash, paint thinners and detergents. 

Desplechin explained: “IEA member companies’ products do not go into the biofuels sector. They are used on the […] industrial market.” 

He distanced the IEA from the environmental NGOs’ criticism, describing the association as “disconnected” from the biofuels market. However, he said that it follows policy developments in the biofuels sector because they have a “knock-on effect” on the whole ethanol industry.  

Specifically, he said that among the main reasons for setting up the IEA was that “there was a need to represent the industrial ethanol sector in areas like trade and customs, where all ethanol is treated the same regardless of origin or use”. 

INFORSE-Europe (an international network for sustainable energy), though calling for a moratorium on EU production and imports of agrofuels, explicitly stresses that "this [...] does not include the use of biofuels in truly sustainable ways, such as the replacement of imported fossil fuels by the local use of sustainably produced biofuels". 

The establishment of the association comes at a time when ethanol is increasingly high on the EU political agenda, with the Commission's 2007 energy package aiming to increase the proportion of biofuels in transport fuel to 10% by 2020.

  • Industrial Ethanol Association (IEA):Homepage

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