Biofuels under development

In response to EU directive 2003/30/EC the Dutch government is to promote use of transport biofuels from 2006 onwards. Although several such fuels including biodiesel and bio-ethanol are already on the market in various countries, there are a number of other promising biofuels still under development.

At the request of the Netherlands Petroleum Industry Association (VNPI), CE has carried out a comprehensive analytical review of several of the most promising of these biofuels, viz.: Fischer-Tropsch diesel from biomass, bio-ethanol from woody biomass, ETBE from this bio-ethanol and HTU diesel. This report assesses the anticipated environmental performance of these new fuels and their potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as costs, fuel quality, anticipated date of market introduction and the potential opportunities for Dutch industry arising from these developments. In line with an earlier CE study for VNPI, use of biomass to synthesise these biofuels was also compared with deployment for electrical power generation.

The study concludes that if the envisaged developments indeed come to fruition, the new biofuels reviewed will be clearly superior to current biofuels, not only being cheaper but also yielding a two- to threefold greater reduction of greenhouse emissions. Large-scale commercial production is anticipated within about a decade, though this horizon depends very much on the R&D efforts invested in the coming years.