Assessment of Biofuels: Potential and Limitations
High economic growth, underway for several decades in most developing countries across the globe, has resulted in robust demand for various energy sources. A greater need for mobility and peoples’ aspirations for improved living conditions have together become the main driver for increasing primary oil demand, which is projected, according to most recent energy “outlooks” by the IEA and OPEC, to rise by about 1.0% per year, reaching approximately 105 million barrels per day (mb/d) level by 2030.
This study is a synthesis of recent assessment reports on the status of biofuels and the implications of their development. It provides an overview of the global trends in biofuels supply and demand, as well as a review of the policies that are being implemented or considered in major countries to promote current (first) and next generation biofuel development. The study also discusses the potential of biofuels to address energy security concerns and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the ongoing debate over the implications of biofuel development on food security and rural development, biodiversity, deforestation, water resources and air quality. It also assesses the status of next generation technologies and their potential role in minimizing the sustainability problems associated with first generation biofuels. The analysis points out remaining uncertainties and open questions and outlines policy directions which can best promote the development of biofuels, while addressing, among other concerns, those of oil producing and consuming countries.