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).