Technology Roadmap: Biofuels for Transport

Technology Roadmap: Biofuels for Transport
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Edition: 2011
56 pages

Translations: Chinese

Release Date: 20 April 2011


The production of transport fuels from biomass, in either liquid or gaseous form, holds the promise of a low net fossil-energy requirement and low life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, there are many hurdles to the expansion of biofuels production, including competition for agricultural commodities and land, and impacts on water resources and biodiversity. The successful development of advanced biofuels technologies, using non-food biomass feedstocks, could help overcome most barriers and achieve sustainable, very low CO2, cost-effective biofuels.

The IEA “Biofuels for Transport” roadmap describes the steps necessary to achieve the ambitious biofuel projections presented in the Energy Technology Perspectives 2010 Blue Map scenario. Under this scenario, biofuel demand increases rapidly, reaching approximately 760 Mtoe (32 EJ) in 2050, a share of 27% of total transport fuel. This roadmap identifies major barriers, opportunities, and policy measures for policy makers, industry and financial partners to accelerate RDD&D efforts for sustainable biofuel technologies and ensure sustainable feedstock provision on both a national and international scale.

 Key Findings

  • By 2050 biofuels provide 27% of total transport fuel, and avoid around 2.1 Gt CO2 emissions per year when produced sustainably.
  • To meet this vision, the most cost and GHG efficient biofuels will be needed including considerable amounts of advanced biofuels.
  • Commercial deployment of advanced biofuels will require further substantial research, development and demonstration, as well as deployment investment.
  • Support policies should incentivise the most efficient biofuels in terms of overall green-house gas performance, and be backed by a strong policy framework which ensures that food-security and biodiversity are not compromised and that social impacts are positive.
  • This roadmap requires around 65 EJ of biofuel feedstock in 2050, occupying around 100 Mha. With a sound policy framework in place, it should be possible to source the required biomass from residues and wastes, along with sustainably grown energy crops.
  • Trade in biomass and biofuels will become increasingly important to supply biomass from biomass-rich regions to areas with high production and/or consumption levels and can help trigger investments in certain regions.
  • Increasing scale and efficiency improvements will reduce biofuel production costs. The competitive position of biofuels will depend on a number of factors. Most biofuels are competitive by 2030, except when their production costs are strongly coupled to oil prices. In the longer term, the marginal savings or costs of deploying biofuels are a very small percentage of overall fuel costs.

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