Fuel: Biodiesel

The main first generation feedstocks for biodiesel are palm oil, rapeseed and soy bean. Of the three, palm oil produces the highest yields of oil for biodiesel per hec-tare, and compared to all biofuel feedstocks palm oil produces the highest biofuels yields. Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of fruit from the oil palm tree. As well as being converted to biodiesel palm oil and other palm products have numerous uses, see below. The biggest producers of palm oil for biodiesel are Indonesia and Malaysia. In recent years the use of palm oil for biodiesel has received a lot of criticism: firstly, due to the food versus fuel debate amid concerns that the use of palm is taking the use of palm for food out of production: secondly, because of reports that large areas of the rainforest are being cleared to cultivate oil palm trees. Areas of rainforest in both countries are extremely bio-diverse and home to endangered species such as the Orang-utan.

In response to this the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. Mem-bers of the RSO include oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, con-sumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs and social or developmental NGOs. The organisation introduced a RSPO Certification scheme in 2007 for palm oil that meet sustainability criteria at each step along the supply chain. However, biodiesel produced from palm oil does not meet the new EU greenhouse gas emission reduction criteria for biofuels that should be implemented at the end of this year. While this does not prevent the import of palm or palm oil diesel into the EU, it means that it can’t count towards member state targets for biofuels in transport fuels.