Biofuel production limited by feedstocks in 2030: IEA

  • : Biofuels, Natural gas
  • 23/09/27

Biofuels production rates are not currently on track to meet the 2030 demand that the IEA estimates in the updated Net‐Zero Emissions Scenario (NZE) as feedstock availability proves limiting.

By 2040, the demand for liquid biofuel, including gasoline, diesel, marine fuel and aviation fuels that derive their energy content from biogenic non-electricity sources will have increased by 200pc compared with today, the IEA's Net‐Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE) scenario shows.

The IEA expects demand for biofuels in transport to grow to around 238mn t of oil equivalent (mtoe) in 2030 and 263mtoe in 2040, before declining to 191mtoe by 2050 as the share of electric vehicles (EV) grows. Liquid biofuel growth will come from mainly emerging markets and developing economies because of high consumption in the transport sector. The NZE scenario assumes that no new internal combustion engine passenger cars will be sold by 2035.

But the production rate is not on track to deliver what is required by 2030 in the NZE scenario. Output has increased on average by 4pc per year since 2018, but needs to increase by 13pc per year to reach the 263mtoe projected for 2030.

The slower pace of biofuel production comes from the limited availability of sustainable feedstocks. By 2030, 40pc of the output will be from waste and advanced feedstocks, from crops grown on marginal land, agricultural and forestry residues and residue oils, fats and grease, the IEA said.

According to the IEA, an estimated 20mn t of residue oils, fats, and grease are generated each year and are compatible with commercial production of biofuels.

Biofuels consumption will peak around 2040, before eventually declining after 2050 as the phase-out of the internal combustion engine will lessen the need for blending fuel for road vehicles, the IEA said.

Gaseous bioenergy, including biogas and biomethane, will become highly valuable components of the NZE system by 2030, the IEA said, as cost-effective substitution for natural gas. Gaseous bioenergy has "taken on a significant energy security dimension since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022", the IEA said. And by 2050, biogas produced from anaerobic digestors will become the cheaper alternative to meet the rising demand for gaseous fuels that apply to multiple power outputs, including industrial heat, hydrogen production and maritime fuel, the report said.

The use of bio-based sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in the aviation industry will peak in the mid-2020s to be later complemented by a rising share of synthetic aviation fuel — such as e-kerosine and RFNBOs such as renewable hydrogen, according to the report.

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