While Europe is certainly interested in biofuels, not everyone there is altogether keen on just how much the U.S. is, um, willing to help them with their supply. As the Times Online reports, the Renewable Energy Association has contacted the European Union trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, because the REA (not Renewable Energy Access, a group often featured in these pages) wants American companies to stop "exploiting subsidies to flood the European markets with cut-price fuel." The European Biodiesel Board has also announced its protest, and Spanish biofuel producers made a similar complaint earlier this summer. U.S.-made biodiesel makes up more than half the biodiesel in Europe, the Times reports.
It's not like Europe can't make it's own biofuels. Eastern Europe in particular is busy in this area. The EU is also working on sustainability certification for biofuels. But cheap American biodiesel is threatening to push European producers out of business, some warn (Exhibit A). Part of the problem is that American biodiesel companies basically get breaks from two governments, an American subsidy of $1 a gallon and then an UK rebate of 20p a liter. This means US biodiesel can sell for about about $860 a ton, much less than the $1,239 or so that a UK ton costs, according to the Times Online's numbers. How long will that double-dipping last? If the complaints keep up, probably not much longer.
[Source: Times Online, Grant Ringshaw]