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: In 2015 and 2016, companies in the oil industry had to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3.5 per cent compared to the total quantity of gasoline fuel, fossil diesel fuel and biofuel that they had placed on the market, they have to reduce emissions by 4 per cent between 2017 and 2019 and by 6 per cent compared with a reference value to be calculated from 2020 onwards. For this purpose, greenhouse gas emissions must be determined for each individual biofuel quantity and then verified by sustainability certificates.

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. The percentage rate rises to 50 per cent for plants that were commissioned by 5 October, 2015. Areas with high carbon content or high biodiversity must not be used to cultivate plants needed for biofuel production. Similarly, only raw materials originating from sustainable cultivation are allowed. Detailed specifications are being made for these from the point of view of nature conservation and environmental protection. This excludes raw materials from primary forests such as rainforest areas.

The amendment to the Directive relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (Amendment Directive 2015/1513/EC) aims to avoid indirect land use changes (ILUC) when promoting biofuels. This is to be achieved by allowing "conventional" biofuels (from starch, sugar and vegetable oils) to be credited only up to a share of 7% of the 10 per cent EU target for renewable energy in transport. The remaining 3% is to be covered mainly by biofuels from residual and waste materials as well as advanced biofuels (e.g. cellulose) and the electricity used in rail and electric vehicles. 2017 was the target year to implement this Amendment Directive in the Member States.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy pays particular attention to ensuring that biofuel policy is economically and technologically neutral. Alternative fuels such as biomethane, which is a biogas treated to attain natural gas quality, are obtained from energy crops and agricultural residues. It can be fed to the filling stations via the existing natural gas network, and can be used as fuel. Throughout Germany, 81,423 natural gas vehicles (figure from the Federal Motor Transport Authority as of 1 January 2015) can be refuelled at 916 natural gas filling stations. Biomethane and natural gas, however, only account for a small portion of total fuel sales.

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 6,699 petrol stations. According to statistics from the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt - KBA), around 494,148 (as of the 1st January 2015) cars operate with LPG in Germany.