Save 60 % greenhouse gases and improve your own CO2-balance!




Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound of carbon and oxygen. The chemical formula for carbon dioxide is CO2. It is a colorless, odorless gas and composes 0.04% of the earth's atmosphere. In general, CO2 is consumed by green plants and produced by humans and animals. Additionally, carbon dioxide is created by the combustion of fossil fuels or vegetable matter, as well as other chemical processes.


The main compound of fossil fuels, which are produced from crude oil, is carbon. This carbon was chemically bound by plants millions of years ago. Captured in the earth's geological layers, this carbon is now rapidly released as CO2 to the atmosphere contributing to the warming of the earth's temperature (greenhouse gas effect, GHG).


The main advantage of biofuels is that the carbon which is emitted by the combuston of biofuels is absorbed by the regrowth of plants (e.g. rape). Therefore, biofuel production and use can be regarded as a closed loop in contrast to the combustion of fossil fuels.


However, it has to be considered that for the production of biofuels energy is needed and carbon dioxide is emitted. Energy input is required e.g. for crop cultivation, harvest, transport, storage, and biofuel processing. Additionally, other greenhouse gases than CO2 (methane, nitrous oxide) are emitted which are included as "CO2 equivalents" in the CO2 balance of biofuels.


The CO2 balance is influenced by the following factors:

  • Feedstock type (e.g. rape seed, sunflower, animal fats, waste cooking oil)
  • Origin of feedstock
  • Intensity of cultivation (pesticides, fertilizer)
  • Utilisation of co-products (glyzerine, press cake)
  • Transport distances

Several methodologies exist for the calculation of greenhouse gas balances and reduction numbers. They differ in system boundaries and calculation procedures. A main factor influencing the results is the consideration of co-products which are the press cake and glycerine for biodiesel from rapeseed.


For instance, if the co-product glycerine is used for chemical purposes and credited to the calculation, a minimum 60% greenhouse gas reduction can be calculated for biodiesel from rapeseed when compared to fossil diesel. The Ifeu Institute in Heidelberg/Germany investigated greenhouse gas emissions of the whole life cycle of RME production. According to the Ifeu Institute 2,2 kg CO2 equivalents are saved per liter RME compared to the use of fossil diesel. Representatives of the Ifeu Institute and other renowned international biodiesel experts (see Advisory Board of the Carbon Labelling project) have verified the 60% CO2-equivalent reduction of RME which was applied in the first CO2Star campaign at Q1 stations where solely biodiesel produced from rapeseed in Germany is offered.


Currently, the European Union is preparing a new Directive "on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources". A draft directive was issued by the European Commission and is now reviewed by the European Parliament and the Member States. This proposed Directive also includes a methodology for greenhouse gas calculations for several biofuels. According to this methodology, typical GHG savings for RME are 44% and default values for GHG savings are 36%.