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a look at

2016 overview and outlook for biofuels

With falling fossil fuel prices, 2015 was marked by a general decline in the appeal of
alternative fuels. But although growth in worldwide volume of biofuel production and
consumption is slowing, blending requirements continue to increase and investment,
though declining, is still taking place.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of biofuel processes, a variety of conditions must

be met, such as an increase in fossil energy prices and/or CO2 taxation, the use of
policy levers including implementation of post-2020 objectives (incorporation levels,
reduction of greenhouse gases, etc.) and fuel blending standards.

Biofuels in the road transport sector On a global scale, the share of biofuels consumed in
transport is constantly rising, though at a slower pace
during 2011-2014 (Fig. 2).
Worldwide energy consumption in the road transport
sector rose by nearly 2 billion toe (Btoe). During 2014, Latin America posted the highest overall biofuel incor-
alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuels continued to poration rate of more than 10% (in energy). North
expand, representing 6.7% of fuels consumed. Among America and Europe followed, posting a rate of approxi-
these alternatives (biofuels, LPG, NGV, electricity), bio- mately 5% (in energy).
fuels represent 69 Mtoe (Fig. 1). Their consumption rose
by nearly 8% between 2013 and 2014. At the same time, Fig. 2 – Worldwide change in consumption of ethanol and biodiesel
demand for road transport fuel rose by only 2.1%. 70
60 Biodiesel
Fig. 1 – Worldwide energy consumption in road transport during 2014

821 Mtoe

42% 30
69 Mtoe 4%
132 Mtoe
25 Mtoe 1%
1,010 Mtoe 38 Mtoe 2%
51% 0














Source: Enerdata

Following a downward shift between 2012 and 2013, the

Gasoline Diesel Biofuel LPG NGV incorporation rate in Europe gained ground between
Source: IFPEN, Enerdata 2013 and 2014. Biofuel consumption in the road transport
a look at
2016 overview and outlook for biofuels

sector returned to growth, though still below the level consumption, due to the importance of diesel engines
recorded in 2012. At present, only Finland and Sweden market share in road transport.
have already achieved the 2020 objective set forth in the
Renewable Energy Directive proposed by the European Fig. 4 – Changes in the price of vegetable oils, biodiesel and diesel in
Commission, which set a 10% target for energy from Europe
renewable sources in transport (Fig. 3). 1,190

Fig. 3 – Share of energy from renewable sources in the transport sector 1,090
for various European Union member states in 2014

20 790

Palm oil

Soybean oil
10 Diesel 10 ppm
Rapeseed oil
5 390 FAME
2013 2014 2015 2016
Slovak Republic
Czech Republic
EU - 28
The Netherlands
United Kingdom

Source: Enerdata

Fig. 5 – Growth in biodiesel production by region

Source: Eurostat
North America
While France ranks fourth, a number of countries Central and South America
remain below the 5% incorporation rate as of 2014. Europe
Billions of liters

Asia and Oceania


Until 2014, global biodiesel consumption – Fatty Acid Methyl

Esters (FAME)1 and Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO) –
was gaining ground, reaching record volumes (nearly 30 Mt, 10
Fig. 5), especially due to recent growth in the Brazilian mar-
ket. Brazil became the world’s second largest producer and 5
consumer, behind the United States. However, 2015 is
expected to show a decline, mainly due to falling oil prices 0
and regulatory changes in Germany, another major 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014

biodiesel consumer. The price difference between vegetable Source: UNCTAD 2016

oils and diesel rose significantly during 2015 (Fig. 4). The Among biodiesels, Vegetable Oil Methyl Esters (VOME)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations remain the major product, with an incorporation rate
(FAO) announced a discouraging outlook for 2016 palm oil between 2% and 7% volume depending on the country (up
production, while global demand is constantly rising. to 8% vol. in France) in traditional diesel vehicles. Waste
In addition, producer countries that export a large portion cooking oil methyl esters and animal fats have rapidly
of their production to the European Union (EU), such as emerged, especially in Europe, due to the environmental
Argentina and Indonesia, have faced significant import tax and regulatory benefits of a “waste” type of resource.
increases imposed by the EU. This rise in customs duties However, their growth potential remains limited by avail-
led to reduced imported volumes. Nonetheless, Europe able resources, which are still relatively weak. Finally,
remains the leading region for biodiesel production and HVOs have gradually gained ground since 2011 and, in
2015, represented 12% of biodiesel consumed worldwide.
(1) FAME: includes all fatty acid methyl esters such as vegetable oils (VOME), waste cooking oil
The market is primarily focused in Europe and the United
and animal fats States, and in Singapore for production.

a look at
2016 overview and outlook for biofuels

Fuel ethanol n Consumption of E85 super-ethanol rose by 8.5% from

2013 to 2014, and a significant increase is also
Aside from a slight slowdown between 2011 and 2012 expected for 2015.
caused by a poor sugar cane harvest in Brazil and regu-
latory bottlenecks in the United States, worldwide Fig. 7 – Change in market share of SP95-E10 among gasolines in France
bioethanol consumption has consistently risen. Only the 12 34
EU posted a decline in 2015 (Fig. 6), triggered by fewer 10,881 32,2% 32
10,336 29%
incentive policies and a general decline in energy prices. 9,666
10 2,202 9,367 9,368 9,483 28
1,988 1,789
In Europe, 2014 saw falling consumption of fossil fuels 1,742 1,856 1,989 26
and low agricultural resource costs, which led to the 7,299 SP98 24
8 6,594

Millions of m3
region’s near-self sufficiency in biofuels, at 99% for 5,561
4,911 4,551 4,348 20
ethanol and 97% for biodiesel. 17%

13% SP95 14
Fig. 6 – Growth in fuel ethanol production by region
4 12
90 8
North America
2 6
80 Central and South America E10
Europe 1,379 1,754 2,317 2,714 2,961 3,146 2
Eurasia 0 0
Africa 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Billions of liters

Asia and Oceania Sources: SNPAA, CPDP

n biodiesel from rapeseed, palm, soy and waste cook-
40 ing oil, primarily FAME, totaling 8% volume in on-road
30 diesel fuel. The overall diesel fuel pool included
nearly 5% vol. of HVO2 in 2014.
After stagnating in 2013, consumption of biofuels resumed
its growth in 2014. Biodiesel posted stronger growth
0 (+10.8%) than bioethanol (+5.2%). This growth is primarily
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 explained by increases in the general tax on polluting
activities (TGAP), which rose from 7% to 7.7% for diesel as
Source: UNCTAD 2016
of January 1, 2014. In that same year, the overall incorpo-
Outside of these geographic regions, consumption of ration rate for biofuels reached 7.5% (in energy).
ethanol as a substitute for gasoline is expected to rise,
In terms of the outlook for biofuel growth in France, the
even though falling oil prices and market rates for starch
Energy Transition and Green Growth Act (LTE) passed in
and sugar crops do not favor growth as robust as was
May 2015 includes a 15% consumption goal for renewable
seen in the two previous years. In addition, little is still
fuels in the transport sector by 2030. According to the
known about the industrial production of lignocellulosic
work taking place at IFPEN, this goal could be achieved
ethanol, known as second-generation, launched in 2014 with an energy mix that includes first and second-generation
with only around ten projects worldwide. liquid biofuels up to a potential 14%, supplemented by
renewable electricity and biomethane.
A look at France
General outlook on processes: toward
In France, the principal biofuels available for consump- a transition of biomass resources supply
tion are:
n grain-based ethanol (primarily from beets and sugar With respect to first-generation biofuels in Europe,
cane, for imported volumes) totaling 5% max. vol. in SP98 approximately 4% of total area under cereal and beet pro-
and SP95 (unleaded), 10% max. vol. in SP95-E10, duction is used for energy crops (bioethanol production),
and 85% vol. in super-ethanol for flex-fuel vehicles. with a clear preponderance of cereals (more than 75%).
Consumption of SP95-E10 is constantly growing, reaching
one third of total gasoline consumption in 2015 (Fig. 7). (2) HVO or Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil, synthetic biofuels that fall under diesel fuels

a look at
2016 overview and outlook for biofuels

However, the share of sugar beets may increase, with These lignocellulosic resources are currently being stud-
the elimination of sugar quotas from the Common ied with a view to developing second-generation biofuels.
Agricultural Policy (CAP) in 2017. With respect to biodiesel, The first commercial lignocellulosic ethanol units were
limits on the area available for oilseed crops have nearly launched at the end of 2013 and then in 2014, in the United
been reached. With more than half of the area under rape- States, Brazil, Europe and China. Today there are more
seed production used for energy crops, the limitations on than ten commercial 2G ethanol units worldwide, includ-
expanding this process are being reached. ing five in the United States, two in Brazil and in China,
and one in Europe and in Canada. The United States,
In this context, the European Commission is attempting China, Canada and Europe also have a number of demon-
to define sustainability criteria for the use of biomass stration projects in development.
resources in energy production, in order to limit addi-
tional reliance on food resources and ensure best envi- In Europe as in France, their development currently
ronmental practices. The first-generation processes awaits more specific regulation of carbon emission
using these food resources will no longer benefit from reduction targets in the transport sector and related
public assistance in 2020, and will be capped at a maxi- sustainability criteria. The French second-generation
mum rate of 7% incorporation in the energy mix for the ethanol demonstrator (Futurol project in which IFPEN
transport sector. In addition, waste resources count is part of the partnership) is under development at the
twofold for target accounting purposes. Hence the rapid Pomacle site (Marne, France). New outlets for the
development of waste cooking oil and other animal fat technology in green chemistry are also planned. There
biodiesels, which represented nearly a quarter of is not currently a lignocellulosic industrial unit for the
resources in the European biodiesel market for 2014. For diesel sector. Several BtL3 pilot units were launched,
example, France has three biodiesel production units that accompanied by the emergence of pyrolysis pilot units
in the refinery. The French BioTfueL project is under
primarily treat this type of residue (Veolia in Limay, Nord-
development, with a gasification demonstration facility
Ester in Dunkerque, Estener in Le Havre). The ethanol
in Dunkerque and a biomass torrefaction demonstra-
sector can already count waste resources, with the recy-
tion unit near Compiègne, expected to launch in 2017.
cling of wine distillation residues.
Over the longer term, methods for producing molecules
Lignocellulosic processes using forest or agricultural
of interest through cultivation of micro-organisms such
resources, or industrial residues (such as straw, forest
as micro-algae (autotrophic method) or yeasts (het-
residues or paper mill black liquors) will also benefit.
erotrophic method) are being studied. Mainly still in the
The planting of dedicated lignocellulosic crops (mis-
laboratory phase, these technologies may allow produc-
canthus, short rotation coppice, etc.) may be regulated
tion of diesel substitutes, kerosene for aviation and
by restricting the type of areas used for their cultivation.
numerous biosourced products for the chemical sector.
Though a number of actions are ongoing to develop
Fig. 8 – Geographic distribution of lignocellulosic ethanol production alternative fuels for aviation, the extreme temperatures,
capacity in 2015 (including commercial, demonstration and pilot units)
pressure, fungibility, the critical safety challenges and
the multinational nature of product use have hindered
United States the product approval process and the expanded use of
China biojets over the short term.
Canada In conclusion, a marked decline in demand for alternative
9% Brazil fuels during 2015, triggered by low fossil fuel prices,
35% has slowed growth in the biofuel sector.

In Europe, product inventory is swelling, prices are

falling, and imports declining, but around the world,
22% incorporation mandates continue to grow and invest-
ment continues.
24% Growing awareness of the need to reduce carbon emissions
in the transport sector supports the development of

(3) BtL or Biomass to Liquid: process for producing synthetic diesel through biomass gasification
Source: UNCTEAD 2016 and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis

a look at
2016 overview and outlook for biofuels

alternative fuels. Liquid fuels will remain the principal of post-2020 objectives in Europe, clarification of
energy source for the transport sector over the short sustainability criteria and the increase in blending
to medium term. Nonetheless, to ensure the long- grades (including E20). Lastly, the development of new
term sustainability of biofuel processes, a variety of processes will undoubtedly require investment support.
conditions must be met such as rising fossil energy
prices and/or CO 2 taxation in the transport sector, Daphné Lorne –
the use of policy levers, specifically implementation Final draft submitted in June 2016

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