Energy transition

EU negotiations on renewable energy may jeopardise key energy transition projects in Rotterdam

On 13 June the Bulgarian presidency of the European Union aims to conclude a deal with the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council on the revised Renewable Energy Directive (REDII). For the Port of Rotterdam the REDII has a potential impact on several energy transition projects that are developed in the context of decarbonising transport and industry.

The Port of Rotterdam calls upon negotiators to take our concerns into account when concluding the trilogue talks on Wednesday. It concerns a stable policy framework for advanced biofuels (Annex IX), a mandate for Recycled Carbon Fuels, including a realistic greenhouse gas (GHG) savings threshold for renewable liquid and gaseous transport fuels of non-biological origin and recycled carbon fuels. In addition, we call upon negotiators to harmonize EU sustainability criteria for biomass and aim to make sure that the multiplier for biofuels in maritime shipping is maintained.

Investors need confidence to deploy and invest in renewable energy and in the application of renewable materials in industrial processes. It is therefore crucial that Annex IX remains unchanged. For the Port of Rotterdam feedstocks on this list (i.e. the biomass fraction of non-recyclable household and industrial waste) form the input streams for the waste-to-chemicals plant that the Port of Rotterdam, AkzoNobel, Enerkem and Air Liquide want to build in Rotterdam as a flagship of the new biobased European industry and the energy transition.

Furthermore, the Port of Rotterdam aims to develop a circular chemical cluster specialised in turning waste products into sustainable feedstocks, materials and fuels. We are pleased to see that a mandate has been established for Recycled Carbon Fuels, meaning liquid and gaseous fuels produced from unavoidable waste streams of non-renewable origin, including waste processing gases, exhaust gases and solid waste streams.

The GHG threshold of 70% that is currently proposed for both bio feedstocks and Recycled Carbon Fuels is in our view unrealistic and, therefore, unachievable. In our view, the European Commission should be mandated to establish the GHG threshold after conducting conclusive research on this issue.

Furthermore, the Port of Rotterdam welcomes the introduction of sustainability criteria for solid biomass, but stresses that harmonization is a prerequisite for the tradability and exchangeability of sustainable biomass in Europe. A harmonized framework of sustainability criteria for biomass allows for the optimal exchange of biomass streams among different users in Europe. This does not only result in the more efficient use of biomass streams but also for more sustainable ways of using biomass as stock sizes could be reduced and users on the European biomass market can easily exchange surpluses of sustainable biomass.

To conclude, the proposal to assign a multiplier factor to support the use of renewable fuels in maritime shipping is very much welcomed and is in our view the only legal instrument that could – indirectly - stimulate CO₂ reduction in maritime shipping, as the International Maritime Organisation will only come up with a strategy for CO₂ reduction in 2023 at the earliest.

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