The Future of Biofuels

Climate change has made its way to the centre of the global stage. Customers are demanding electric cars and environmentally friendly fuels, and investors are focused in the direction of renewable energy.

This week BP announced a few of their greener ambitions. They pledged to net-zero emissions in oil and gas production, an increased investment in alternative fuels and to half the carbon intensity of its products by 2050. An increasing number of the world’s oil and gas major’s are prioritising research into more ecologically sound liquid fuels. For example, Shell takes the lead in renewables, with their investments in biofuel production plants who develop renewable diesel and jet fuel with 90% less carbon intensity than traditional fossil-based fuels.


A biofuel is any fuel that is derived from biomass such as plant, algae or animal waste. They are considered a type of renewable energy due to their easy replenishment combined with their carbon dioxide absorbing abilities.


In the transport industry, an effective infrastructure for liquid biofuels is already in place. Liquid biofuel is predominantly produced in the US from maize and blended with gasoil or diesel to meet government regulations. Biodiesel is non-toxic and biodegradable and just like petroleum-derived diesel, it is used to fuel diesel engines.  Biodiesel can be blended with petroleum diesel in any percentage.


In the UK, petrol and diesel contain around 7 percent of biofuels to meet government greenhouse gas targets, otherwise suppliers pay a buyout fee. Cars, trucks and road vehicles makeup over 40 percent of global oil usage, hence any efforts in this industry will have a significant effect globally. A greener future is inevitable. Public pressures have elevated efforts from majors within the oil industry giving biofuels a key role in this change. 


Polly Serpell
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