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Sustainable Production of Second-Generation Biofuels – Potential and Perspectives in Major Economies and Developing Countries – International Energy Agency (IEA) White Paper

The increasing criticism of the sustainability of many first-generation biofuels has raised attention to the potential of so-called second-generation biofuels. Depending on the feedstock choice and the cultivation technique, second-generation biofuel production has the potential to provide benefits such as consuming waste residues and making use of abandoned land. In this way, the new fuels could offer considerable potential to promote rural development and improve economic conditions in emerging and developing regions. However, while second-generation biofuel crops and production technologies are more efficient, their production could become unsustainable if they compete with food crops for available land. Thus, their sustainability will depend on whether producers comply with criteria like minimum lifecycle GHG reductions, including land use change, and social standards.

Research-and-development activities on second-generation biofuels so far have been undertaken only in a number of developed countries and in some large emerging economies like Brazil, China and India. The aim of this study is, therefore, to identify opportunities and constraints related to the potential future production of second-generation biofuels and assess the framework for a successful implementation of a second-generation biofuel industry under different economic and geographic conditions. Therefore, eight countries have been analysed in detail: Mexico, four major non-OECD economies (Brazil, China, India and South Africa), and three developing countries in Africa and South-east Asia (Cameroon, Tanzania and Thailand). The study further assesses the potential of agricultural and forestry residues as potential feedstock for second-generation biofuels.

The results of this study help answer what contribution second-generation biofuels from residues could make to the future biofuel demand projected in IEA scenarios, and under which conditions major economies and developing countries could profit from their production.

This white paper can be downloaded from – http://www.iea.org/papers/2010/second_generation_biofuels.pdf