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French total biofuel consumption increased by around 1% in 2016 as the country moved closer to its national and European renewable targets. Ethanol, which saw a 3.3% demand increase in 2016, accounted for almost all of the growth.
The increase in biofuel demand has taken place despite a decline in liquid fuel demand. Total gasoline and diesel consumption in 2016 decreased 2.8%, reaching 1,099 thousand barrels per day (Mb/d) from 1,131 Mb/d. This was driven by both lackluster economic growth (France’s GDP rose 1.2% in 2016 compared with 1.3% in 2015) and continuing fuel economy gains.
Ethanol demand rose 3.3% in 2016. This increase was largely due to higher ethanol blending. In 2016, ethanol penetration reached 8.8 vol%, 0.3 percentage points above 2015. This matches French regulations mandating 8 vol% ethanol in SP95 and SP98 gasoline. The remaining ethanol comes from SP95-E10 and E85 fuels.
Biomass-based diesel saw tepid growth in 2016, reaching 54.9 Mb/d compared to 54.7 Mb/d in 2015. Similar to ethanol, higher blending drove this increase in demand. The biomass-based diesel blend surpassed the national target of 7.7 vol%, reaching 8.7 vol%. The market share of biomass-based diesel in France has actually held steady or risen every year since at least 2010. Meanwhile, petroleum diesel consumption declined 3% in 2016 as efficiency gains continue and economic growth remains mild.
France remains behind the energy content target of 10% cal (calorific) set by the European Commission’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and its own national mandates, primarily with respect to ethanol. Ethanol penetration in 2016 reached 6% cal, below the 7% national mandate, while total renewable energy content in 2016 reached 8.8% cal (of which biofuels made up 7.7% cal), 1.2 percentage points below the RED target. France has met its national target for biomass-based diesel since 2012, with 2016 blending reaching 8.1% cal, above the 7.7% cal mandate.
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