Biofuel quota

Updated: 11.01.2019

Author: Tim Sternkopf

The biofuel quota has been replaced as of January 2015 by a greenhouse gas reduction quota. The greenhouse emissions have to be reduced by a predefined quota (§ 37a par. 4 BImSchG), which has already been set until 2020. This can be achieved through the use of biofuel or electricity for road vehicles (§ 37a par. 5 BImSchG). While the BImSchG offers the legal prerequisites for a future usage of electricity in the transport sector as a way of reducing the GHG quota, the regulation stipulating the specific conditions under which this would be possible have not been adopted yet. Furthermore, the update of the BImSchG creates also the first theoretical base for a future usage of upstream emission reductions within the GHG reduction quota (§ 37a par. 5 sentence 3, concrete practical implementation steps being however still awaited. 

Eligible technologies


Biofuels exclusively produced from biomass (defined in § 2 BiomasseV), energy products that pro rata have been produced from biomass, biodiesel, bioethanol, biomethane (§ 37b BImSchG).


Amount of quota and period of application

Beginning with 2015, emissions have to be reduced by 3.5%, from 2017 by 4% and beyond 2020 by 6%. Accordingly, the allowed share of greenhouse gases discharged from diesel and gasoline is being reduced in form of a quota, meaning that the usage of biofuel is only indirectly stimulated (§ 37a par. 3a BImSchG). The obligation must be fulfilled by the end of each calendar year (§ 37a BImSchG in conjunction with § 8 EnergieStG).

Adjustment of quotas

The Federal Ministry of Finance and subordinate Main Customs Authority control the compliance with the quota obligation (§ 37d (1) BImSchG). The federal government may adjust the quota without the consent of the Bundesrat (§ 37d par. 2 5. BImSchG).

Fees and penalty charges

If a provider fails to fulfil the quota, the competent authority charges a penalty based on the amount of biofuel that has been missed (§ 37c par. 2 sentence 1 BImSchG) or the emission reduction quota which has not been accordingly met. The penalties can vary between EUR 19 and EUR 43 per gigajoule. The missing amount is being charged with EUR 0.47/kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (§ 37c par. 2 BImSchG). 


The quota obligation applies to companies which trade with petrol- or diesel fuels and have to be taxed according to the Energy Tax Law (§ 37a par. 1 sentence 1; par. 2 sentence 1; par. 3 sentence 1 BImSchG).


Process flow

  • Submission of data on traded fuel. By 15 April of each year the obliged companies shall present to the responsible authority (regional Main Costoms Authority) the amount of traded petrol- diesel- und biofuel of the previous year (section 37c par. 1 BImSchG).
  • Estimation of amount of the traded fuel. If a company fails to present data on traded fuels the responsible authority can estimate the amount (section 37c par. 3 BImSchG).
  • Penalty charge. If a company fails to fulfil the quota, the responsible authority charges a penalty (§ 37c par. 2 BImSchG).

Competent authority

Main Customs Authority at the main customs office in Frankfurt/Oder and its subordinate offices.

Distribution of costs


The costs are borne by the consumers.

Distribution mechanism

According to the Main Customs Authority , it can be assumed that the obliged companies pass on the costs arising from the quota obligation to the consumers by adding a surcharge to their fuels.


Further information

Basic information on legal sources