Biofuels at Inflection Point: Opportunities for Technology Developers

Published on 17 Feb, 2020

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This report deals with the current status of biofuel production, developments in this space, and prospects. The present focus of research and development (R&D) is on the production of biofuels, such as bioethanol, biodiesel, and biogas, from waste matter. The successful application of newly developed technologies combined with economic feasibility can significantly increase the production of biofuels and help reduce the menace of green house gas emissions (GHG).

Fossil fuels supply more than 80% of the global energy required and are among the major contributors of GHG. GHGs are responsible for global warming and reported in highly alarming levels. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep the global temperature rise below 2⁰C; this target can be achieved by developing sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.

Biofuels can be an alternative to fossil fuels. The current use of renewable energy in transportation accounts for only 3% of the fuel mix. The primary energy supply from biomass accounts for 70% of the total renewable energy produced while that from biofuels accounts for only 9%.

Biofuel production can be increased with favorable government policies and the use of biomass generated from agricultural residues, municipal solid waste, and industrial waste. Developments in the areas of feedstock pretreatment, catalysis, product separation, and systemic feedstock collection can further enhance biofuel production.

Biofuel production in 2020 is expected to be 968 million barrels and could increase at a CAGR of 4.1% until 2023. By 2050, biofuels are projected to account for 22% of total fuel consumption worldwide.