How it was: the first voyage on biofuels in Europe

Biofuels are a powerful driver of the economy and an important factor in the energy independence of many countries. Ukraine is no exception, as it has international commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement. The biofuel sector has been developing in Ukraine since the 2000s. 12 years ago, at the beginning of June, when the world celebrates Environment Day,  the ship with biofuel went on a cruise from Kyiv. It was the first time in the history of Eastern Europe.

The first biofuel cruise and conference

During the voyage on the ship, the IV International Conference “Alternative Fuel – 2009” took place. The event was organized by Fuel Alternative and the international magazine “Alternative Fuel”. The aim of the conference was to prove that the production of biofuels, even in adverse conditions, can become a successful business project.

And the conditions then were really not the best: “Unfortunately, most companies do not work today. This year, literally several hundred tons were produced for the certification of biodiesel. With a view to state support, these enterprises were built several years ago, but by announcing a state program for the production of biodiesel, the government quickly forgot about this type of activity, which it initiated. Biofuels should have a zero rate of excise duty. ” – Fuel Alternative CEO Vitaliy Daviy noted and his words have not lost their relevance yet.

However, the ship, refueled with biofuels made from rapeseed oil, made a cruise. The Conference, which at that time was the main event in Ukraine’s renewable energy sector, brought together key players in the bioethanol and biodiesel market, producers and traders of petroleum products, and the agro-industrial complex of Central and Eastern Europe.

During the discussions they talked about technologies in the biofuel market, trends in the industry, the necessary bills.

In Europe, the biofuel industry has been supported by government subsidies from the beginning.

In Ukraine at that time, support programs were announced, but in fact not included in the budget. Experts noted the significant potential of Ukraine as a supplier of biofuels. Because the country was among the top three in the cultivation of rapeseed, 90% of which was exported.

12 years later

Today, the transition to biofuels in Ukraine is not just a matter of the efforts of renewable energy enthusiasts. The country has an international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement. By 2030, we must reduce emissions by 65%   compared to 1990 levels. Ukraine plans to become a climate-neutral country by 2060.

The developed Energy Strategy of Ukraine aims to reach 11 million toe. (tons of oil equivalent) from biofuels, biomass, and waste in 2035, but the document does not say what types of biofuels and technologies, in which sectors will work.

Meanwhile, the equipment of most coal-fired power plants is on the verge of physical wear. And the service life of most nuclear power plants in the country expires in 2050. Ukraine is in dire need of a specific road map.

The energy potential of biomass in the country is even twice as much as set out in the Strategy – in 2018 it was estimated at 23.1 million tons AD / year. These are agricultural residues: straw of cereals, rape, waste from the production of corn and sunflower. One third of all potential is accounted for by energy crops such as willow, poplar and miscanthus.

First of all, Ukraine lacks a legal framework for a full-fledged transition to biofuels. The industry is still insufficiently encouraged in terms of tax legislation. And some definitions, in particular the very concept of “energy plants” needs a legislative definition.

As in 2009, the Verkhovna Rada now has bills that could catalyze the explosive growth of the biofuel sector. And when they are adopted, those who have believed in the industry from the beginning will be at the forefront of development.

Photo: Internet