Stay RED-ready: Compliance with the Renewable Energy Directive

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

The Red Tractor assurance scheme helps UK grain comply with the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED). With changes coming into effect on 1 July 2021 (RED II), it is important to keep up to speed to help ensure continued access to the EU biofuel market.

What are the new rules? (Red Tractor Crops and Sugar Beet technical update, May 2021)


This article is based on information from the team at Red Tractor:


Recently, interest in the use of biofuels and bioliquids has grown rapidly. However, there are concerns that land with biodiversity or carbon-store value could be used to grow cereals/oilseeds for the biofuel market. RED aims to protect land and prevent this from occurring.

In the UK, comparable legislation, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), mirrors the requirements of the EU RED. This means UK growers still need to meet RED requirements to access the EU biofuel market, regardless of Brexit.

Note: The requirements apply to any producer globally that wants to access the EU biofuel market – covering the export of biofuel and raw material (grains/oilseeds) used to produce biofuel in Europe.

The role of Red Tractor

Red Tractor has delivered RED certification for the past 10 years, as part of annual assessments. It was built into the Red Tractor scheme because the alternative, a dedicated RED audit through a specialised certification body, would have meant additional burden and expense for farmers. The Red Tractor assessment is a streamlined approach, which remains focused on the elements of assurance required by the food and feed markets. It helps farmers demonstrate that grain meets the requirements of RED, keeping markets open – at home and overseas.

How is RED changing?

In November 2016, the European Commission published its ‘Clean Energy for all Europeans’ initiative and adopted a proposal to ‘recast’ RED.

To date, compliance has been achieved through a relatively straightforward verification by farmers that they have not started to produce grain for the biofuel market at the expense of ecologically sensitive areas on their farm.

New rules come into force on 1 July 2021, which will require additional record-keeping, further questions and more checks in the Red Tractor audit.

What are the new rules? (Red Tractor Crops and Sugar Beet technical update, May 2021)

Why change is important

Since the introduction of RED/RTFO, the biofuels industry has grown significantly. The dynamics of the market are also constantly evolving. For example, the standard (or ‘Premium’) petrol grade in the UK is set to become E10 (contains up to 10% renewable ethanol) this year.

Due to hit UK forecourts in September, E10 is compatible with 95% of petrol vehicles on Britain’s roads. The move could open a more profitable avenue for bioethanol production.

With AHDB supply and demand estimates suggesting the barest of wheat stocks at the end of the 2020/21 season and a tight supply/demand balance for the 2021/22 season, adding more demand to the market is good news for growers.

Over the next decade, the demand for sustainable, clean energy supplies will propel the demand for biofuels across the globe. Many countries have ambitious mandates to blend biofuels with conventional fuels to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels.

To take full advantage of market opportunities, it makes sense for as much of the UK crop to be RED/RTFO-compliant as possible.

What are the new rules? (Red Tractor Crops and Sugar Beet technical update, May 2021)

Access the combinable crops grain passport


A red fuel can in a field with a red tractor in the distance.
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