Indirect greenhouse gas emissions of molasses ethanol in the European Union
The European Commission has proposed adding molasses to a list of advanced biofuel feedstocks eligible for support in the 2021-2030 timeframe under the recast Renewable Energy Directive. Final stage molasses resulting from multiple steps of sugar refining is not typically used for food, and so its use in biofuel would not directly impact food markets. However, molasses is currently used in livestock feed, yeast production, and other applications. If it is diverted to biofuel production, other materials must replace it in producing feed, yeast, etc.
This study assesses the indirect market impacts and resulting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from using molasses for biofuel. An overview of sugar refining and the current molasses market is provided. This informs a displacement analysis assessing the indirect GHG emissions resulting from a diversion of molasses from its current uses. These results are discussed in the context of a literature review on previous lifecycle assessments of molasses biofuel and the GHG reduction goals of EU renewable fuels policy.