IFEU—Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg—recently concluded a comprehensive survey and analysis of the studies (Life-Cycle Analysis—LCA) that have been conducted to examine the cost, potential and environmental impact of biofuels for transportation.
As we’ve seen in discussions here on GCC, studies of this sort can show considerable differences in the findings and conclusion and raise numerous issues about methodologies. The IFEU strove to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the available studies on biofuels and to determine further research needs.
The report, funded by the German Research Association for Combustion Engines (FVV), the Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP) and the German Association for Research on Automobile-Technique (FAT), took more than 800 studies into account. From these, it found 63 that satisfied its criteria for further analysis. This lead to the evaluation of 109 balances of energy and greenhouse gases of a variety of biofuels, compared to either conventional fuels or other biofuels. The study tried to consider the complete life-cycle of the fuels, from production to consumption.
The full report is available from the UFOP website, here.
As might be expected, this survey identified a number of gaps and inconsistencies in the research approaches represented by the body of literature. The report concludes with several pages of suggestions on future research.