Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Scottish Renewables Forum

  1.  Please find enclosed our views relating to the Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry on "Reducing Carbon Emissions from Transport".

  2.  Scottish Renewables is Scotland's leading renewables trade body, representing over 170 organisations, businesses and individuals involved in the development of renewable energy projects in Scotland. Our membership ranges from community groups and sole traders, up to major Scottish utilities and international plcs. Between them they are active in the development of biomass, hydro, solar, wave, wind and tidal energy projects. Further information about our work and our membership can be found on our website.

  3.  We recognise that the Scottish Executive has responsibility for the promotion of renewable energy and sustainable transport, including biofuels. This response recognises that different levels of government have separate responsibilities and that, in responding to the inquiry, we have preferred to make a more substantive submission indicating how co-ordinated actions across the UK are important in ensuring that renewable energy and transport policy is effective.

  4.  Due to the focus of our organisation on renewable energy, this response focusses on the Department of Transport's low carbon vehicle strategy.

  5.  We recognise the benefits of using biodiesel to power vehicles, not least that they reduce carbon emissions from vehicles by as much as 70%, thereby helping meet UK emissions targets. As well as being clean burning with very low particulates, sulphur and hydrocarbon emissions, biodiesel improves the fuel economy of vehicles and provides good lubricity. The great strength of biodiesel as an early player in the sustainable transport industry is the fact that it can be seamlessly integrated into existing infrastructure. Unmodified diesel engines can run on any mix from 10% to 100%, with present tanks and pumping systems requiring little alteration.

  6.  As the depletion and rising costs of fossil fuels continue, the issue of security of supply becomes increasingly important. It is therefore necessary for the UK to increase its production and use of indigenous biofuels for transport as a matter of urgency.

  7.  Biofuels can help improve the rural economy by stimulating the markets for certain crops and by the creation of new jobs in the processing of the fuels. The production and transportation of biofuels could potentially provide employment opportunities for UK farmers and other rural businesses. Research has suggested that about 2-5 farming jobs could be created (or sustained where crops substitute for other cultivation) for each 1,000 tonnes of biofuel produced. A 100,000 tonne processing plant could therefore create/sustain around 60-80 jobs directly and as many as 550 jobs in agriculture.[80]

  8.  Scottish Renewables, therefore, strongly supports the UK Government's aim to increase the use of biofuels in transport, with a move towards hydrogen fuel cells in the long-term. We support the targets set by the European Union, namely that 2% of transport fuels should be sourced from biofuels by 2005 and 5.75% by 2010.

  9.  We also welcome the targets set out in the Powering Future Vehicles strategy. However, we note that the UK is currently falling significantly short of its target. Further work therefore needs to be done by UK Government to incentivise the production and uptake of biofuels for transport. The Scottish Agricultural College report on Biodiesel Production from Oilseed Rape[81] provides good analysis of the biodiesel potential, and recommendations for action.

  10.  Scottish Renewables welcomes the announcement of the UK Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation. This initiative should create instant demand for transport biofuels. We would, however, stress the importance of meeting this demand through the use of indigenous fuels (such as oil seed rape, tallow and used cooking oil), rather than imports, to reduce the associated carbon emissions involved in transporting the fuel. In particular, we would stress that great caution be taken when considering the use of imported resources, such as palm oil, which could have been grown in deforested regions of other countries.

  11.  We would also recommend that the UK Government encourages the interest and uptake of biofuels amongst the general public by embarking on awareness-raising activities.

  12.  I hope that the above information is of assistance to you in your inquiry. If you would like further information, we would welcome the chance to assist you further.

February 2006

80   Research carried out on behalf of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA). Further information available via Back

81   Booth E, Booth J, Cook P, Ferguson B, and Walker K (2005), Economic Evaluation of Biodiesel Production from Oilseed Rape grown in North and East Scotland, Scottish Agricultural College. Back

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