The ever-increasing demand for energy and the associated environmental concerns call for introduction of measures for preventing or reducing the negative effects of energy production. In Europe, about one-third of primary energy consumption is associated with the transport sector, and with it, with the emission of enormous quantities of polluting and greenhouse gases. For this reason, and due to the transport industry’s nigh onto total dependence on oil (98%, according to the Commission White Paper on “European Transport Policy for 2010”) and relative import dependency, the European Commission issued the Biofuels Directive (2003/30/EC, 8 May 2003) setting an indicative target of 5.75% of biofuels and other renewable fuels by 2010, a goal that in March 2007 the European Council upped to 10% by 2020. In recent years, biofuels have also found a place as a raw material (bioliquids) in high-efficiency stationary electric power generation (a sector responsible for another third of EU greenhouse emissions). In these same years, a broad-based, lively debate on the subject of sustainability was developed. Finally, in April 2009, the new European Directive (2009/28/CE) “on the promotion of use of energy from renewable sources” was issued. This Directive confirms the abovementioned targets for the biomass sector and especially for biofuel in its various forms, accompanying these determinations with a series of requirements relative to traceability and environmental sustainability applicable to the entire sector, as necessary conditions for qualifying for the various renewable energy incentives provided in the various Member States.
One point of great interest in the agrienergy (agricultural renewable energy) sector is the search for solutions that make the producers of the raw materials not simple suppliers but direct participants in the added value of the end product.
The Life-VOICE Project, made possible by the support of the European Commission Directorate-General for the Environment’s Life-Environment program, has attempted to provide a contribution to the debate on these themes. The work of Project researchers, public bodies, associations, and partner enterprises has been directed toward developing a constitutive, coordinated approach to analyzing the opportunities offered by the pure vegetable oil supply chain and toward best organizing projects that aim at attaining environmental, economic, and social sustainability. The agronomic and technological solutions created and tested by the project permitted us to evaluate the feasibility of various options by collecting experimental data and thus verifying the different test hypotheses. Demonstration installations were created to analyze the effective sustainability of the entire supply chain, its reliability over time, and effects on the environment in terms of both global and local pollutants. The results of the tests provide a contribution to “qualified” development (through the tangible solutions brought into play) of this energy supply chain.
Finally, since the very start of the activities, scenarios and proposals for incentive measures and support policies have been under development and a part of these have been made into law. VOICE concluded by pointing up the ongoing issues and problems, the solutions to which constitute necessary steps toward full development of the supply chain.
© 2006/2007 CREAR - Centro Interdipartimentale di Ricerca per le Energie Alternative e Rinnovabili
University of Florence
Project supported by the European Community under the LIFE-Environment Programme
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