UK biofuel crops market outlook may be improved

Oilseed rape, sugar beet, wheat numbers all revised up

A Home Grown Cereals Authority-led revision to regional greenhouse gas emissions figures could deliver financial benefits to growers and reopen market opportunities for arable crops in the biofuels supply chain, according to the group.

The HGCA has been working with the Department for Transport and an industry consortium to revise a report that details the ability of UK regions to meet legally binding greenhouse gas emissions criteria under the Renewable Energy Directive. “At present, most crops meet the current RED sustainability criteria and can freely enter the biofuel supply chain,” said Harley Stoddart, HGCA research and knowledge transfer manager. “The existing land-use change criteria tend only to be an issue for crops grown on relatively small areas of land with a high biodiversity value or significant stocks of carbon. But, from April 1, 2013, further crop-specific emissions criteria come into force which could restrict market access by growers in certain UK regions and mean crops from these regions could effectively be traded at a discount. The findings in the 2010 report would potentially affect trade in a large number of regions.”

Following the review, the revised picture is:

  • Oilseed rape — 97 percent of UK production meets the criteria (was less than 5 percent)
  • Sugar beet — 100 percent of UK production meets the criteria (was 0 percent)
  • Wheat — 84 percent of UK production meets the criteria (was c. 83 percent)

In December, the revised report will be submitted to the Department for Transportation and should be passed on to the European Commission shortly after. If the Commission accepts the report, the new emissions figures will automatically override the 2010 figures and will be able to be used by the supply chain with immediate effect.