June 22, 2022


Europe's bioethanol production engenders more animal fodder yields last year, figures reveal



The production of bioethanol in Europe has led to greater yields of animal fodder than fuel in 2021, new figures show – further evidence that biofuels can also contribute to food stability, according to the industry.


Data gathered by the European ethanol trade association ePURE found that, for the first time, their members produced more animal feed co-products than renewable ethanol. The results were certified by Swiss auditing firm Copartner.


Some 4.48 million tonnes of high-protein animal feed were produced thanks to the generation of ethanol in Europe. These feed would have required importation, primarily from Latin America, or additional cultivation.


Environmental NGOs have portrayed the production of crop-based biofuels as problematic on both environmental and food security grounds, referring to food shortages experienced in the wake of the ongoing war in Ukraine to demand an end to crop-based biofuels.


"Ethanol and biodiesel produced from agricultural crops have negative impacts on climate and the environment,"  Laura Buffet, energy director atTransport & Environment (T&E), told EURACTIV. "As the UN reports, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated steadily rising global food prices, worsening the situation around food security.


"In a context of food insecurity, there is no role to play for biofuels produced from agricultural commodities like vegetable oils or cereals."


T&E are among a group of NGOs calling on EU governments to immediately ban feed crops for biofuel production, warning that continuing to do so may lead food prices spiraling "out of control".


The ethanol industry rebutted the claim, arguing that biofuels not only lessen the need for imported fossil fuels, but that the protein feed for animals yielded from the production process supports food security.


"Many times over, we have demonstrated with documented facts that the industrial, agricultural, economic reality is food and fuel," said Valérie Corre, president of ePURE, speaking at a recent EURACTIV conference.


Corre explained that in addition to producing animal feed, EU bioethanol production results in sugar and starch.


"If the biofuel market is undermined, it is clear that this food production would be at stake," she said.


Biofuels also serve to strengthen farmers' revenues, which encourages them to continue producing food in Europe, Corre argued.


"It's a very complex issue. You can't summarise a complex issue with something that sounds like an ultimatum: food versus fuel," she said. "I hope that the decision makers will follow the fact-based approach which is food and fuel, and not so much the emotional one..."


Corre also highlighted the small agricultural area used to cultivate ethanol in the European Union, which amounts to 2.2% of the bloc's arable area.


According to ePURE data, the level of greenhouse gas emission reduction of EU-produced ethanol compared to fossil gasoline hit a new high, reaching 76.9%.


"The new data once again confirm what we have known for years: that renewable ethanol is the most cost-effective (greenhouse gas) GHG-abatement solution the EU has," said David Carpintero, director general of ePURE.



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