The Transport Minister Andrew Adonis has announced plans to revise the government’s biofuels targets while ploughing more money into research in the area.
Last week Adonis said the rate of increase in the use of biofuels should be slowed to 0.5% a year, and that the level for the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) should reach 5% by 2013-14 instead of the current target of 2010-11.
The government said the move was part of its response to concerns about the indirect environmental and social impacts of producing biofuels.
Adonis published a consultation with key findings from the Gallagher Review. At the same time he said a further £6 million would be given to research being conducted by the Carbon Trust to accelerate the development of advanced sustainable biofuels technologies.
Adonis said: “Everyone agrees that to tackle climate change we must develop new and cleaner fuels. But we are clear that biofuels will only have a role to play in this if they are sustainably produced.
“That is why the Government commissioned Professor Gallagher to examine the indirect impacts of biofuels, and we have accepted his recommendation to amend but not abandon our approach.
“We need to take a more cautious approach to biofuels and today’s consultation sets out our options, as well as dedicating a further £6 million to helping ensure that second generation biofuels are truly sustainable.”
Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, added: “This funding will help in the urgent search for low carbon and sustainable alternatives to oil by accelerating the development of two advanced technologies; pyrolysis-based conversion and algae as a sustainable feedstock.”
Professor Ed Gallagher, chair of the Renewable Fuels Agency, was commissioned by the government in February to lead a review of the latest evidence on biofuels. He found that “there is a future for a sustainable biofuels industry” and that by 2020 “biofuels have the potential to deliver annual global greenhouse gas savings of approximately 338 to 371 million tonnes of carbon dioxide”. But he also warned more evidence and monitoring was needed on sustainability and the wider impacts of biofuels. As part of this he made a number of recommendations for the future of biofuels, which were accepted by the government.