Germany retail biodiesel sales plummet

By Susanne Retka Schill | February 10, 2009
Web exclusive posted Feb. 13, 2009, at 12:52 p.m. CST

German quality assurance firm Arbeitsgemeinschaft Qualitätsmanagement Biodiesel e.V. (AGQM) announced Feb. 6 that its quality assurance program for public filling stations will be dropped, blaming the change in German tax policies. In August 2006, Germany began phasing out a biodiesel tax incentive; combined with the past year's high petroleum prices, consumer demand for biodiesel at the pump has weakened.

Until last year, Germany was leading European growth in the number of filling stations selling biodiesel to consumers, with AGQM estimating 1,900 public filling stations offering the fuel. A poll by AGQM of its 437 licensees earlier this year indicated just 88 firms are still interested in selling biodiesel. Of the 1,200 filling stations operated by the licensees, only 250 still sell biodiesel. "As AGQM and other industry associations see it, this negative development is due to the disproportionately high taxation on biodiesel," AGQM said in a statement. The quality assurance firm will continue its quality management services for biodiesel producers and traders who supply biodiesel for the mandated blends, as well to wholesale businesses.

Between 2001 and 2005, German biodiesel sales at public filling stations rose each year. In 2006, as Germany began phasing out its biofuel tax benefits, sales began tapering off until they plummeted last year. In 2008, UFOP, the German Union for Promoting Oil Seeds and Protein Plants, estimated the sales at public filling stations dropped by half from the 2005 numbers. Public filling station biodiesel sales in 2007 amounted to 456,000 tons (136 million gallons). Nearly 1.4 million tons (418 million gallons) of biodiesel are consumed by agriculture and private filling stations for truck fleets and 1.5 million tons (448 million gallons) for mandated blending.

Germany is by far the continent's largest biodiesel user at 3.13 million tons (935 million gallons) in 2007, followed by France at 1.15 million tons (344 million gallons). The rest of the continental European sales combined equal France's biodiesel consumption.
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