Study Shows World’s Biodiesel Production Potential

John Davis

A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison looks at the potential for biodiesel production worldwide and identifies some of the countries that could become big players in the future of biodiesel.

sage.gifThis article on the Science Daily web site says the study ranked 226 countries according to their potential to make large volumes of biodiesel at low cost. While many of the big players already in the biodiesel market, such as the United States and Brazil, ranked in the top 10, researchers Matt Johnston and Tracey Holloway of the Nelson Institute’s Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) looked at some of the developing countries and their potential:

mattjohnston1.JPG[T]he researchers say the study’s true motivation was to identify developing countries that already export significant amounts of vegetable oil for profit, but may not have considered refining it into biodiesel. By exporting biodiesel – a higher value commodity – these countries could improve their trade balances, says Johnston, or use the fuel to offset their own energy needs.

“A lot of these countries don’t have any petroleum resources and so they’re having to import petroleum,” he says. “At the same time, they’re exporting vegetable oil that they could be turning into biodiesel and using domestically.”

Overall, the study ranked Malaysia, Thailand, Colombia, Uruguay and Ghana as the developing nations most likely to attract biodiesel investment, not only because of their strong agricultural industries, but also due to their relative safety and stability, lack of debt, among other economic factors.

The study goes on to say worldwide biodiesel production could reach 12-13 billion gallons a year… 4-5 percent of the world’s current petroleum demand… IF all vegetable oil was turned into biodiesel. However, the researchers acknowledge that’s not feasible because of the implications to the food market.

Check out the map below to see where each country ranks and read more about the study by clicking on SAGE’s web site here.