Biofuel Production Declines

Tom Prugh | Mar 31, 2014

In 2012, the combined global production of ethanol and biodiesel fell for the first time since 2000, down 0.4 percent from the figure in 2011.1 (See Figure 1.) Global ethanol production declined slightly for the second year in a row, to 83.1 billion liters, while biodiesel output rose fractionally, from 22.4 billion liters in 2011 to 22.5 billion liters in 2012.2 Biodiesel now accounts for over 20 percent of global biofuel production.3

 Biofuel Figure 1

Biofuels are a subset of bio-energy, which is energy derived from biomass (plant and animal matter) and which can range from manually gathered fuelwood and animal dung to industrially processed forms such as ethanol and biodiesel. Biomass can be used directly for heat, turned into biogas to produce electricity, or processed into liquid forms suitable as alternatives or supplements to fossil fuels for transport.4 Bio-energy is regionally or locally important in many places around the world; traditional biomass is still used for cooking by 38 percent of the people in the world, for example, while in parts of Africa and Asia more than 90 percent of the populace relies on it.5 In China and elsewhere in Asia, roughly 48 million biogas plants were built as of 2012 to support rural electrification.6


Biofuels for transport, essentially ethanol and biodiesel, account for about 0.8 percent of global energy use, 8 percent of global primary energy derived from biomass, 3.4 percent of global road transport fuels, and 2.5 percent of all transport fuels.7 Ethanol is mainly derived from corn and sugarcane, while biodiesel comes from fats and vegetable oils.

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