Biofuels Production Continues to Climb

Joanna Schroeder

According to the Worldwatch Institute, despite a struggling global economy, biofuel use continues to climb. In 2010, global biofuel production increased 17 percent and reached an all-time high of 105 billion liters, up from 90 billion litres in 2009. The increase in biofuel production has been driven by several factors including high oil prices, a global economic rebound and new laws and mandates in several countries including Canada, China, the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina.

The research was conducted by Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program for the website Vital Signs Online. It also found that U.S. and Brazil remain the two largest producers of biofuels with the U.S. producing 49 billion litres or 57 percent of global output and Brazil producing 28 billion litres or 33 percent of the total. For both the U.S, and Brazil, high oil prices were a major factor for production.

“In the United States, the record production of biofuels is attributed in part to high oil prices, which encouraged several large fuel companies, including Sunoco, Valero, Flint Hills, and Murphy Oil, to enter the ethanol industry,” said Alexander Ochs, Director of Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy Program.

Ochs continued, “Although the U.S. and Brazil are the world leaders in ethanol, the largest producer of biodiesel is the European Union, which generated 53 percent of all biodiesel in 2010. However, we may see some European countries switch from biodiesel to ethanol because a recent report from the European Commission states that ethanol crops have a higher energy content than biodiesel crops, making them more efficient sources of fuel.”

Vital Signs authors Sam Shrank, a Worldwatch MAP Sustainable Energy Fellow, and Farhad Farahmand, a Climate and Energy research intern, also explored how new mandates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and China have altered the biofuel industries in these countries. “In Argentina, the biodiesel industry grew not only because of favorable conditions for growing soybeans, but also in response to a new B7 blending mandate, which requires the fuel to be 7 percent biodiesel and 93 percent diesel.”

You can click here to learn more about the study.

Biodiesel, biofuels, Ethanol, International