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Forecast: Global Biofuels Use to Double by 2015, Second-Gen Biofuels to Lag Expectations

Despite a number of key issues such as land use and competition for feedstocks supplies for traditional food and feed uses, global use of biofuels is excepted to more than double from 2009 to 2015, according to a new global analysis released by Hart Energy Publishing’s Global Biofuels Center (GBC).

Hart’s “Global Biofuels Outlook to 2015” (GBO 2015) concludes that the US will see a growth of total biofuels use of more than 35%. Brazil will grow domestic supplies by 30% and more than double export volume. Indonesia and Malaysia will more than double production of palm oil biodiesel, while Germany will remain the largest producer of biofuels in Europe, according to the analysis. Major new contributors to the growth of global biofuels between 2009 and 2015 include Indonesia, France, China, India, Thailand, Colombia, Malaysia, Philippines and Argentina.

First generation ethanol, palm oil biodiesel and rapeseed biodiesel from Europe continue to be the dominant biofuels produced. Despite major public policy interest in next-generation biofuels, actual commercial growth in the production and use of these fuels between 2009 and 2015 is projected to remain behind expectations.

GBO 2015 revealed that out of the approximately 170 next-generation biofuels projects around the world that are in some stage of development (operational, under construction or proposed), only 30% of those are actually expected to be operating during the study timeframe, and many of those are still in the pilot project stage.

GBC recognizes the potential cellulosic ethanol and renewable diesel represent and that those biofuels, when fully commercialized, will command both a quality and price premium in the marketplace. Those technologies which have thus far added major oil company joint venture partners seem to have the greatest opportunity for first commercial operations.

Be it cellulosic ethanol, renewable diesel, biomass-to-liquids (BTL) or Fischer Tropsch liquids, made from feedstocks such as agricultural or municipal solid wastes, grasses, woods, waste paper and algae, next-generation biofuels are still largely under Research & Development.

—Tammy Klein, Executive Director of the Global Biofuels Center and the study leader

Moreover, the study finds, mandates set that require next-generation biofuels will not be met, particularly in the US. Currently, sugarcane ethanol from Brazil is the only commercially available, economical, low-carbon biofuel available on the market currently to meet US RFS2 advanced biofuel and other low-carbon fuel requirements.

Other key findings include:

  • Global ethanol demand will represent 12-14% of the global gasoline pool by 2015;

  • US imports of Brazilian sugarcane ethanol will increase to allow obligated parties to meet the LCFS and RFS2 in the 2011-2015 timeframe.

  • Asia-Pacific ethanol production will grow tremendously in the coming years and could represent as much as 20% of global ethanol production by 2015;

  • If India’s own projections are realized, it could outpace Brazil in ethanol production and exporting by 2015. Nonetheless, despite India’s ethanol production expansion, Hart projects that Brazil will remain the leading global biofuels exporter

  • GBC estimates potential supply for biodiesel by 2015 could reach 94 billion liters (24.8 billion gallons), more than double our demand estimate of 36 billion liters (9.5 billion gallons). Similarly to ethanol, governments in response could increase blending limits beyond B2-B5 to absorb excess capacity. Many proposed projects in all regions simply will not be built either.

    GBC expects unfavorable utilization rates for many plants to continue throughout the study period and many plants that operate now will likely not be in existence in 2015. Realistically, the actual supply for biodiesel will come closer to demand at somewhere closer to 40 billion liters (10.6 billion gallons).

    GBC estimates that even a 10% global biodiesel mandate applied in the four primary regions included in the supply and demand analysis would still result in a supply surplus of more than 20 billion liters (5.28 billion gallons) by 2015.

Covering mainly ethanol and biodiesel, but also ETBE (ethyl tertiary butyl ether), cellulosic ethanol and renewable diesel (also known as non-ester biodiesel) where applicable, the Global Biofuels Outlook captures the current and near-term biofuels picture in 35 countries in the five key regions of the globe.

The study reviews local and global drivers, public and fiscal policy developments, current and projected production capacity, and supply and demand projections for 2009, 2010 and 2015. This year, the study also includes a comprehensive matrix of next generation technologies, including company name, technology description, development status and plant capacity. The study also reviews the status of existing biofuels plants (operational, idle or shut down).



We could make an all out push for cellulose biofuels the next 10 years, but may not. That would have lots of benefits in many areas, but we do not take large coordinated action.



In this country we call that socialism. Won't happen for political reasons.


@ JMartin and SJC,

You (we) can beat any vested interest opposed to environmental programs...we just need to assemble a bigger coalition of vested interests.

If the farm lobby, biotech, industrial chemicals, EPA, Sierra Club, Federal Stimulus Funds, Hollywood movie stars, and, uh, I think we need to recruit the AARP somehow, all got together, I think we could do this.


Dear JMartin.
In case you didnt notice in this country the Federal government owns the largest automaker, just loaned the second largest 5 bill, and spent, oh some trillions last year to own all the major banks and home lenders. It's called capitalism.... the American Way.


HB has the right idea, just get a bigger group!


Group think is a dying concept. Look at commodity prices for the "pollutant" CO2. The lowest since trading began - a collapse from $7.00 a ton to 10 cents a ton recently. Why? Because with the billions spent on global warming PR - it has failed to spark human imagination. And business sees it as downright hostile.

Building enthusiasm and consensus based on attraction is a far more realistic approach. Take for example the little device called MicroFueler from E-Fuel. Make your own alcohol from organic waste, sugar or brewery slurry. Every beer brewery throws away tons of waste that is capapble of becoming alcohol fuel.

Encourage people to grow businesses that employ people, clean the environment, wean us from foreign oil - and you will get groups to join the movement.

It starts however with the old adage, think global, act local. Which means small. Which means the smallest unit is the individual.


"Group think is a dying concept"

Group Think is a concept that you saw at NASA with the O rings on Challenger. It is a group phenomenon where no one wants to speak up because of group pressure.

Working together need not lead to Group Think if the proper structure and precautions are taken. Working together can bring about synergy, where the sum is greater than the parts.

The general good MAY come from the aggregate of individual actions, but I will take team work towards a common goal every time. This does not say that lots of individual effort is a bad thing, but if you want to move mountains, a good crew and equipment can do the job faster and better than a lot of people with shovels.

Andrew Blair

A proven process technology exists which uses ethyl-acetate derived from cellulosic ethanol to make biodiesel. The process eliminates the "glycerol glut" problem caused by conventional biodiesel production. The average volumetric ratio for the process is 1:1.2 feedstock:fuel produced; for every single unit of feedstock 1.2 units of liquid fuel is produced. The fuel produced is superior to conventional biodiesel with regard to emissions and fuel efficiency. The process may be fed by several kinds of feedstocks simultaneously. The process is carbon neutral.

Meet TBK Biodiesel:

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