Potential indirect land use change (ILUC)

ILUC prevention

Potential indirect land use change (ILUC) triggered by increased production of crops for biofuels has become a critical point of discussion with respect to the sustainability of biofuels in recent years. Various studies have shown a wide variability in potential ILUC impacts of different crops and in different settings; and results remain uncertain. In addition, a key limitation of existing studies is that they exclude the impact of possible mitigation options and policies. Because biofuels are considered to play an important role in future sustainable energy supply, ILUC prevention is essential.

The ILUC prevention project

The ILUC prevention project was conducted in 2013 and 2014 with the aim to provide insights into the following questions:

  • How can ILUC (risks) be mitigated? 
  • How can ILUC mitigation be quantified?
  • How may ILUC (mitigation) be regulated? 

Regional approach: case studies

The ILUC prevention project applied a regional approach that presumes that ILUC can be prevented if increased regional production is made possible without 1) diverting other crop production nor 2) expanding on high carbon stock or high conservation value lands. To do so, this project takes a sustainable approach to all crop production, whether for food, feed, fibre and fuels. This means:

  • Increasing productivity and resource efficiency in the production for all of these purposes.
  • Appropriate zoning of land for all purposes.

Within the project, four regional case studies were conducted. These case studies investigated how much additional biofuel feedstock can be produced in a specific region with low risk of causing ILUC. Important aspects were also to assess the availability and reliability of data required for the analysis and to investigate policy and governance options relevant in the specific settings. The project included the following case studies:

  • Miscanthus ethanol production in the Lublin province of Poland
  • Corn ethanol production in Hungary
  • Rapeseed biodiesel production in Eastern Romania 
  • Palm oil biodiesel production in Northeast Kalimantan, Indonesia

Reports and other documents

Summary: A summary of the key findings and the conclusions of the project (pdf)

Synthesis report: the synthesis report gives an overview of the background and aim of the project, the general approach for assessing ILUC prevention, key results from the case studies, policy and governance options and key conclusions and recommendations (pdf)

Methodology: the methodology describes the general approach applied in the four case studies to assess the low-ILUC-risk biofuel production potential (pdf)

Individual case study reports:

  • Miscanthus ethanol production in Lublin, Poland (pdf)
  • Corn ethanol production in Hungary: (pdf)
  • Rapeseed biodiesel production in Eastern Romania (pdf)
  • Palm oil biodiesel production in Northeast Kalimantan (pdf)

Slides: PowerPoint presentation giving an overview of the project, key results and conclusions with key massages from the ILUC prevention project (pdf)


Umbrella project: Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Dutch Sustainable Biomass Commission, Rotterdam Climate Initiative / Port of Rotterdam
Case studies: ePURE, MVO/FEDIOL, Neste Oil, Shell