IEA lays out blueprint for biofuel

By He Shan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 25, 2012
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Biofuel is set to provide 27 percent of transportation fuel by 2050, according to a roadmap unveiled by the International Energy Agency. [File photo]

The International Energy Agency (IEA) unveiled a Chinese edition of "Technology Roadmap of Biofuels for Transportation" in Beijing on Wednesday. The roadmap sets out strategies and develops a growth path for promoting biofuels used for transportation.

The release of the roadmap's Chinese edition is welcomed by Chinese companies, investors and workers that are involved in biofuels and will draw attention from policymakers in the one of the world's largest green markets.

Adam Brown, senior analyst of IEA's Renewable Energy Division, spoke about the specifics of the roadmap at the release news conference. "Biofuel will provide 27 percent of transportation fuel by 2050 from current 2 percent by dint of the technological advancement," he said of the future of biofuels.

Quote from the roadmap:

"By 2050, biofuels could provide 27 percent of total transport fuel and contribute in particular to the replacement of diesel, kerosene and jet fuel. The projected use of biofuels could avoid around 2.1 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions per year when produced sustainably."

"Scale and efficiency improvements will reduce biofuel production costs over time. In a low-cost scenario, most biofuels could be competitive with fossil fuels by 2030. In a scenario in which production costs are strongly coupled to oil prices, they would remain slightly more expensive than fossil fuels."

The global demand for fuel shot up dramatically as a result of the exponential growth of transportation sector over the past decade. According to an IEA estimate in the roadmap, biofuel is expected to replace between 55 million tons and 75 million tons of fossil fuels by 2050 while producing no massive harm on the environment or food security.

However, the roadmap doesn't necessarily all translate into a sparkling green future of sustainability. The blueprint also calls for reducing of trade barriers such as tariffs to create a stable market for biofuels.

The roadmap warns that "without decisive action, energy-related greenhouse gas emissions will more than double by 2050 and increased oil demand will heighten concerns over the security of supplies."

Brown said discussions regarding biofuels will be held at the Rio+20 Summit less than one month away. He noticed that as talks about the competition between biofuel and food have come to the forefront, biofuel sector has shown signs of a stagnant development recently after a decade of booming growth.

Still, the IEA analyst said he believed that the use of biofuel will have a rosy future as the popularity of state-of-the-art biofuels such as environmentally friendly cellulosic ethanol produced from wood and grasses instead of edible plants will reduce the risk of competition between food and biofuel production.

"The Rio summit will definitely discuss how to reasonably use biofuel," he said. "I hope positive results will come out of it."

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