Biofuels At What Cost? A review of costs and benefits of France's biofuel policies

By Tom Moerenhout, Christopher Charles, Marius Keller on September 9, 2013

This report evaluates some of the principal issues associated with France's biofuels industry, including support policies, employment creation, emissions abatement, and the role of biofuels and other renewable technologies in meeting EU renewable energy targets.

The costs and benefits of France's policies in meeting the objectives that Member States such as France have set out to achieve—increased energy security, improvements in environmental performance and the generation of additional economic value—are assessed. The report finds:

  • Support to France's biofuel industry in 2011 was estimated at €170 million to €210 million for ethanol and €612 million to €800 million for biodiesel.
  • When tax exemptions were adjusted for energy the support estimate for ethanol was then between €3 million and €44 million, and for biodiesel between €546 million and €734 million.
  • 2011 carbon abatement costs for ethanol were at €247 per tonne CO2 avoided and €31 per tonne when adjusted for energy. Conventional biodiesel was responsible for net emissions increases, and no abatement cost was calculated.
  • There is a wide range for the number of direct and indirect jobs created by the French biofuels sector, estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000 in 2011.
  • Trade in biodiesel and feedstock is significant for France, with approximately one-fifth of biodiesel consumption in 2011 met through imported biodiesel, and national production relying significantly on foreign, mostly non-European feedstock. France is a net exporter of bioethanol, mostly produced from domestically grown feedstock.

A number of policy recommendations are provided to promote the sustainability and effectiveness of France's biofuel policies.

Participating experts

Report details

Focus area
IISD, 2013