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Biofuels foster sustainable land use, not ‘land consumption’

The discussion about banning internal combustion engines is in full swing at national and European levels.

Closely related to this is the question of whether the technological focus should be exclusively on electric drives in order to enable sustainable and largely CO2-neutral individual transport.

In addition to eFuels, whose production still needs to be developed for years, certified-sustainable biofuels are a measure for decarbonizing road transport that have already been introduced in the fuel market and are available in relevant quantities.

In 2021 alone, the blending of up to 7 percent biodiesel and up to 10 percent ethanol in Germany could save more than 11 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent, as officially confirmed.

Critics of this use of biofuels from cultivated biomass, which has been established and certified as sustainable since 2010, often address “land consumption” when it comes to the use of rapeseed as a raw material for biodiesel production, for example.

The energy supply through biofuels of approximately 34.3 terawatt-hours (2021) corresponds to a total energy supply of approximately 8,200 wind-power plants, which do not have to be built for this output.

Stephan Arens, managing director of the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP), pointed out that there can be no question of land consumption for biofuel production.

“Rapeseed is the most important domestic oil-bearing plant, and it is never ‘consumed’ exclusively for the production of biofuels,” Arens said. “Instead of land consumption, we should rather talk about sustainable and comprehensive land use, because each of the approximately 1.2 million hectares of rapeseed currently growing on German fields not only provides oil, but to an even greater extent high-quality protein.”

Every liter of rapeseed oil, regardless of its use as cooking oil or an energy source, thus also contributes significantly to the nutrition of farm animals, which in turn contributes to human nutrition in the form of meat and dairy products, as well as eggs.

Arens explained what additional positive effects are associated with this.

“In the discussion about biofuels, it is often ignored that rapeseed grown and processed in this country replaces imported soy meal to a considerable extent,” he said. “As only seeds may be grown in the EU that have not been genetically modified, this also enables GMO-free milk and meat production.”


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