As renewable energy incentives continue to arise in the European Union, the message to go green has been heard in the United Kingdom. Biofuels are one of source of renewable energy that the UK has begun to research and develop in recent years. Several European countries have set a target year of 2020 as the point at which a certain percentage of fuels must be produced by means of renewable resources.
Though Britain itself has not set this goal exactly, the nation understands the importance of furthering the environmental cause.
The majority of biofuels in the United Kingdom appear as biodiesel. Though engines that have been modified to run on pure plant oils are obviously able to run on biofuels, a great number of engines still do not have that capability, so it is common to chemically process vegetable oil into biodiesel.
In the UK, standards have mandated that any diesel engine can utilize biodiesel in mixtures of up to 5% without any type of labeling.
In order to reduce harmful emissions during transport and encourage the use of biofuels, the United Kingdom created the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). 15 suppliers are responsible for most of the fossil fuel used in the UK for transport, and the RTFO has designated them as obligated suppliers. Last year, these obligated suppliers were required to produce 2.5% biofuels as part of their output.
To ensure compliance with the RTFO its administering body, the Renewable Fuels Agency, instructs the obligated suppliers to produce Renewable Transport Fuel Certificates (RTFC) at the end of the year. For every liter of biofuel reported, either by supplying the fuel directly or by trading with another, the supplier receives one RTFC. This also creates possible revenue that can be used to fund more biofuel efforts in the United Kingdom.
The UK is not rushing blindly into the biofuel effort. The government is aware of the controversy surrounding biofuels and the possibility of higher food costs due to a portion of the crops being designated for biofuel production. Addressing these concerns, the United Kingdom has proposed that idle farmland be used for biofuels crops.
Additionally, the plans for a biofuels power plant in Avonmouth with the capacity to power nearly 25,000 homes, was shot down by city council.
Because the plant would have been fueled by palm oil, the councilors at Avonmouth voted against its construction because of the potential negative impact on the rain forests that would supply the palm oil. This would have been blatantly counterproductive to ensuring the health of the environment.
With planning and research, the United Kingdom will continue to promote biofuels as one of the nation’s leading renewable energy sources.