Biofuels such as bioethanol or biodiesel have been making a contribution to climate protection and energy supply for several years now, as it is the strategy of the Federal Government to encourage mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in the area of transport and traffic as well.

The most important objectives have been set for the EU as a whole: at the European level it has been laid down in the Renewable Energy Directive 2009/28/EG (PDF: 1.3 MB) that every member state is to achieve at least ten per cent of final energy consumption from renewable energy sources in the transport sector by 2020. On top of this, under the EU Fuel Quality Directive 2009/30/EC (PDF: 1.1 MB) greenhouse gas emissions from fuels are to be cut by at least six per cent by 2020. Biofuels will be assigned an important role in attaining both of these objectives.

The Federal German Government has set out biofuel quotas in the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) to this end: companies in the petroleum industry have to use a quantity of biofuels each year that corresponds to 6.25% of the energy content of the fuels that they introduce in commerce in sum total each year. This quota can be met both by mixing in biofuels with fossil fuels as well as by using pure biofuels. It is also possible to mix biomethane with natural gas fuels. Under the Ordinance on the Implementation of Arrangements pursuant to the Biofuels Quota (36. BImSchV) certain biofuels, above all those that are produced from residual matter and waste, are furthermore weighted double when they are credited to the biofuels quota. A contractual transfer of the quota obligation to third parties (so-called quota trading) is allowed as well.

The Federal Government has issued a Biofuel Sustainability Regulation (Biokraft-NachV) in order to guarantee the environmental compatibility of biofuels. Under this, biofuels are only deemed to be manufactured in a sustainable manner if they save at least 35% on greenhouse gases in comparison to fossil fuels - with the entire production and supply chain being included in the equation. Moreover, no land with a high carbon content or with a high level of biological diversity may be used to grow crops for the production of biofuels. Biofuels that do not meet these sustainability standards cannot be credited to the biofuels quota that is to be met.

In its biofuels policy, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy focuses special attention on making sure that it is economically and technologically neutral. This also goes for biofuels that receive tax breaks (E85, so-called biofuels of the second generation) and alternative fuels such as biomethane.

Biomethane (CNG - Compressed Natural Gas) is a biogas that is processed to the level of natural gas quality that is produced from energy plants and residual agricultural matter. It can be sent to petrol stations using the existing natural gas network and put in motor vehicles as fuel there. More than 900 petrol stations offer natural gas as a car fuel throughout Germany. Biomethane and natural gas only account for a marginal share of total fuel sales to date, however.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), which is made up of propane, butane or a mixture of the two, has been used in traffic for many years now. It is the most-used alternative fuel in the world. In Germany Liquefied Petroleum Gas can be obtained at 6,644 petrol stations. According to statistics from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt - KBA), around 456,000 cars operate with LPG in Germany.