Bulgaria steaming ahead with legislation to boost green fuel use

SOFIA – Bulgaria is about to introduce compulsory blending of biofuels with diesel and petrol from 2008 to boost the usage of the green fuel and meet European Union targets, government officials said. The new rules to come in force from January 1 require blending of petrol and diesel with a 5 percent content of biodiesel or bioethanol, Economy Ministry officials told a business forum. The Balkan country, which joined the European Union in January, plans to increase the biofuel use to 5.75 percent share of total vehicle fuels by 2010, and to 10 percent by 2020, in line with the bloc’s targets. «Bulgaria will encourage the production and use of biofuels and achieve a sustainable development of the sector,» Alexandrina Dimitrova of the Economy and Energy Ministry said. Global production of biofuels – made from grains, vegetable oils and sugars – have soared as countries look for alternatives to fossil fuels to fight climate change and solve energy security problems. The EU wants to raise the share of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2020. Dimitrova said high crude oil prices, obligatory blending and various planned credit and tax incentives should help the biofuels sector take off in Bulgaria. Sofia has scrapped excise duties for bioethanol and biodiesel and plans a lower tax for blended fuels. Companies in Bulgaria plan to produce 402,000 tons of biodiesel next year and increase it to 450,000 tons by 2020, ministry data showed. Bioethanol output is seen at 66,500 tons next year and up to 107,000 tons by 2020. Dimitrova said the planned quantities are well above the indicative targets of 133,000 tons of biofuels by 2010 and 314,000 tons by 2020. At present few companies produce the green fuels and big players are yet to enter the market. «Once the market needs more fuels, we will be able to provide it as the country has enough raw materials,» said Jordan Vachev, general manager of Biodreams, which has produced around 7,000 tons of biofuel in the past two years. Bulgarian producers will also be able to tap on hefty European Union funds to build new production plants and farmers will receive subsidies to plant so-called energy-like rapeseed and maize.