This Study analyses the role and contribution of 1st generation (1G) biofuels in decarbonising road transport in France by 2030. Beyond the debate on the more or less decarbonised nature of these fuels, the analysis presents an inventory of the many issues at stake in the upstream production chain, in the light of recent dynamics (origin, availability, agro-environmental and energy balance, etc.) and the regulatory framework specifying the supply of biodiesel and bio-gasoline. It questions the objectives and tools of public policies in place, with regard to the use of 1st generation biofuels in transport between now and the end of the decade.

Read the article online (in French) on the Institut Mobilités en Transition website

Key Messages

  • National biofuel consumption is largely based on imported raw materials (48% for gasoline and 78% for diesel in 2022). This dependence on imports calls into question the "national sovereignty" argument regularly put forward in debates.
  • The difficulty of establishing the traceability of raw materials generates considerable uncertainty about the full environmental balance and energy rate of return of biofuels, even though these elements are already hotly debated in the context of what is claimed to be better domestic production. The environmental and energy balance of this solution is therefore only partially mastered, compared with other transitional alternatives for road transport.
  • The European directive for renewable energies REDII limits to 7% the share of energy from first-generation biofuels consumed in all transport in each member country. Against this backdrop, and given that the usual fuels distributed at the pump (B7, B10, SP95-E10, etc.) already contain up to 5%, 7% or 10% biofuel by volume, it seems complicated, if not impossible, to significantly develop biofuels with a high incorporation of first-generation biomass (E85 and B100). Yet the French tax framework continues to favor the latter. There is therefore a risk that marketers will gradually withdraw from supplying conventional fuels (B7, B10, etc.). Such a development would have no environmental added value overall, but would generate a loss of tax revenue for the public authorities that the authors estimate at €507 million in 2022.