As the world recognises the inevitability of peak oil and the necessity to reduce carbon emissions, the possibilty of replacing fossil fuels with fuels produced from biomass – and the downside of doing so – is becoming an increasingly important issue.
Already ethanol is starting to play a part as a transport fuel in the Americas – with Brazil and the United States accounting for about 80% of world fuel ethanol consumption. Similarly, biodiesel is becoming a significant fuel in Europe.
But there are major questions about the value of using these "first generation" biofuels which are derived from feed stocks and crops like sugar cane and palm oil. Many argue that the real bioenergy revolution will come with "second generation" biofuels produced from cellulosic feedstock like fast growing trees and grasses and agricultural waste. But how close are we to being able to achieve this? And what will be the costs?
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has produced an "Issue Brief" on bioenergy and biofuels.which discusses these issues in detail.
Click here to download the full report.