The Renewable Gas Ask : Part L

11.   The Fossil Oil and Gas Producers (Continued)

In the European Union, the Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II) sets an EU-wide target of 14% in renewable energy for road and rail transport by 2030, whilst capping the amount of crop-based biofuels at 7%, as concerns have been raised over sustainability. In addition, the amount of palm oil used for biodiesel is to be phased out by 2030. Individual countries in the European Union have their own different mandates, and must set out their strategy in National Renewable Energy Action Plans :-

RED I : “Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC”

RED II : “Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources” : “Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council […] recast in the interests of clarity.”

The Fuel Quality Directive sets out that oil companies must reduce the carbon intensity of their transport fuels by 6% by 2020, compared with 2010. As an article from 17 September 2019 suggests, this poses some problems.

The Fuel Quality Directive ( 2009/30/EC, amended from the 98/70/EC original) sets out in Annex I and Annex II the limits of what could be blended with petrol-gasoline and diesel, to meet the requirements of Article 3 and Article 4.

Annex I : “Environmental Specifications for Market Fuels to be Used for Vehicles Equipped With Positive-Ignition Engines : Type : Petrol” (Petrol or Gasoline) : Oxygenates (% volume for volume)

Note : “Other oxygenates” refers to, “Other mono-alcohols and ethers with a final boiling point no higher than that stated in EN 228:2004”

Ethanol (with any necessary stabilising agents)10%E10
Iso-propyl alcohol (IPA, isoPropanol)12%
Tert-butyl alcohol (tert-Butanol)15%
Iso-butyl alcohol (isoButanol)15%
Ethers containing five or more carbon atoms per molecule (for example Oxymethylene Dimethyl Ether 3, OME-3, PODE-3, OMDME-3)22%
Other oxygenates (See note)15%

Annex II : Environmental Specifications for Market Fuels to be Used for Vehicles Equipped With Compression Ignition Engines : Type : Diesel

FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) content : EN 14078 (complying with EN 14214)7%B7

Each country has their own fuel standards. For example, the UK, although barring some administrative nightmare, negotiation complexity or legal challenge, is scheduled to depart the European Union in the near future, will still, hopefully, retain E5 and B7 blended fuels as well as the overall 6% biofuel use target of the RTFO Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation.

But can the fuel sellers create high enough biofuels demand across the European region (of which the United Kingdom geographically and market-wise remains a part, regardless of the exiting from Treaties) ? And can the fuel producers get higher renewable percentage blends through engineering standards committees ? This has been called the “blend wall” limitation, and has been experienced in the United States as well.

Given the higher percentage of OME and other high carbon oxygenate ethers permitted for blending with petrol-gasoline, will the fuel refiners plump for these, or the alcohols ?

And given that research into using longer chain OMEs for blending with or largely replacing diesel is advancing rapidly, will the fuel producers be taking this route ?

Since OMEs can be synthesised from renewable feedstocks, via Renewable Hydrogen, by a variety of processing routes, the race is on to find optimised methods of producing them.

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