Dr. Angelika Ruckert coordinates the activities of TOTAL Deutschland and the TOTAL refinery in Leuna for meeting the statutory carbon emission quota obligation. The latter is intended for the reduction of carbon emissions from gasoline and diesel fuel. Dr. Ruckert specializes in alternative fuels. She is in charge of sustainability certification for biofuels. As a fuel distributing company, TOTAL is obligated to prove the sustainable production of biofuels. In Germany, a complex system records the minimum share of biofuels which are brought on the market every year. The German carbon emission quota obligation has been in force since 2015 and is unique for all of Europe. In this way, specifically the use of biofuels having a strong potential for reduction of carbon emissions are to be promoted. The current carbon emissions quota obligation converts carbon dioxide (CO2) and dinitrogen oxide (N2O) as well as methane into CO2 equivalents.
Which of your projects do you associate with the slogan, “Committed to better energy”?
Since 2015 TOTAL has been obligated to reduce the carbon emissions of fossil fuels distributed through oil companies by 3.5%. Starting in 2017, this share will be increased to minus 4.0% and starting in 2020 to minus 6.0%. The standard fossil reference basis is the value of 83.8 g CO2 per megajoule for gasoline and diesel fuel. A sample calculation: 1l diesel fuel emits ca. 3kg CO2 during combustion. A reduction of minus 3.5% is equivalent to 105g CO2 less per liter – achieved through admixture of biofuels. This is the challenge currently being faced by TOTAL in the transport sector. My work mainly comprises helping to shape this. In this way I am fully committed to a better use of energy.
What do you do exactly? It all sounds so complicated…
I and my colleagues annually register the “carbon emission reduction quota” with the Customs Office. Specifically, this means the volume of biofuels as distributed on the national market, including the TOTAL refinery in Leuna. With the help of the biofuels we reduce the CO2 emissions from gasoline and diesel fuel. The law precisely regulates an increased admixture of biofuels or the distribution of biofuels (such as Biodiesel 100) for reduction of carbon emissions. Only biofuels for which sustainable production can be proven is counted towards meeting this obligation. The Customs Office compares whether the registered quota matches the corresponding volumes of biofuels together with the certificates. Reduction of carbon emission is not recognized without the certificate of sustainable production. In such a case TOTAL might even have to pay a fine!
As a layperson, what does this sustainable certification look like to me?
There are EU criteria from the Renewable Energies Directive (2009/28/EG) concerning biofuels. The entire value added chain of biofuel production is inspected in the process. For example, for the cultivation of biogenic additives no primary forests may be cleared and no nature reserves may be used for that purpose. Moreover, the International Labor Organization has set specific guidelines (no child labor), which are accounted for in the EU guidelines.
Who inspects the certificates?
German authorities, such as the Federal Department of Food and Agriculture carry out random sampling, also in the countries of cultivation such as in Malaysia, in order to check the certificates issued. Inspection bodies working partly together with the Department of Food and Agriculture perform an audit once a year. The biofuel manufacturers and TOTAL also pay for this. TOTAL is a customer of sustainability certification. In this way, certificates are inspected throughout the supply chain in order to guarantee sustainability and to avoid wrong information.
How does TOTAL meet these prescriptions?
TOTAL only adds biofuels which comply with the sustainability standards and bear the corresponding certificates. The quality standards need to be met for the final products (gasoline and diesel fuel) at all times. It is a very complicated system. For registration of the quota a bio-balance for all biofuels during one year must be prepared and backed by the corresponding sustainability certificates. At TOTAL a task-force bio consisting of 12 people from different departments (finance, logistics, pilotage, refinery, service stations…) works on this. I coordinate this work group and act as a problem-solver for inquiries from officials or in the case of internal problems. I also have regular contact with our headquarters in Paris. We also follow the political regulation situation meticulously. There are often changes. Last, but not least, I hold internal seminars on the topics of Bio/organic products and Sustainability.
What is the position of TOTAL in these areas?
Firstly, our group advocates a global carbon tax, together with other international oil and gas companies. Secondly, the TOTAL group is researching the production of cutting-edge fuels with low carbon emissions from biomass and inedible parts of plants. Thirdly, we also advocate “co-processing” in Germany. This process involves the joint hydrogenation of vegetable oils and fossil fuels. We could use our existing industrial facilities for this. This process is also admitted in France and Austria, but in Germany it is not counted towards carbon emission reduction with regard to meeting the quota.
Talking about the future, what changes can TOTAL anticipate?
Brussels passed a new guideline for calculation of the carbon emission intensity of fuels. This guideline has to be enacted as German law by April 2017 and is likely to have an impact on the carbon emission quota duty. The EU Commission is also planning on revising a fuel quality directive (FQD) and renewable energy directive (RED). Both regulation projects will also have an impact on the carbon emission quota obligation.
Admixture of vegetable oil esters e.g. rapeseed (biodiesel, fatty acid methyl ester – FAME) for diesel fuel in volume max. 7%
Admixture of bioethanol from sugar beets or cereals such as corn for admixture for Otto engine fuel at a maximum volume of 5% for E5 and maximum 10% for E10
Admixture of hydrogenation vegetable oils such as palm oil (hydrogenated vegetable oils – HVO) for diesel fuel in volume without any admixture limit, but the fuel specification (DIN-Norm EN 590) must always be met. Admixture of 15% HVO unproblematic, but expensive and limited availability
Manufacturers certify the carbon emission reduction per energy unit, the standard value for rapeseed biodiesel fuel is minus 38% carbon emission reduction per energy unit
Depending on the product the carbon emission reduction can also go as high as 60% or more e.g. biodiesel from yellow grease such as frying grease offers carbon emission reduction of up to 90% (because it was formerly burned as waste and is now recycled through admixture to diesel fuel)