Growth of Biofuel Production Slows

Samuel Shrank | Nov 04, 2010

Global biofuel production rose in 2009 to a total of 92.8 billion liters from 84.7 billion liters in 2008, a 9.6-percent increase.1 (See Figure 1.) This was a far smaller increase than the nearly 44 percent jump from 2007 to 2008, largely due to the worldwide recession and lower Brazilian production.2 With worldwide oil production falling 2.6 percent from 2008 to 2009, biofuels accounted for 2 percent of all transport fuel, up from 1.8 percent in 2008.3

Biofuels are alternatives to gasoline, diesel, and other transport fuels that are derived from biomass. The two most common biofuels are ethanol, made by fermenting the sugars in plant material, and biodiesel, made from oils and fats. In 2009 the world produced 76.2 billion liters of ethanol and 16.6 billion liters of biodiesel.4

The United States and Brazil produce the largest amount of ethanol, roughly 41 billion and 26.3 billion liters respectively, which account for 88 percent of the world total.5 Other producers include China, Canada, France, and Germany, but none supplies more than 3 percent of the total.6 U.S. ethanol production continued to grow in 2009, up 16 percent from 2008, and represented 54 percent of the world total.7 The U.S. industry, still dominated by corn-based ethanol, looks poised for further growth as well. As of January 2010, biorefinery additions and expansions that would produce an additional 5.5 billion liters a year were under construction.8


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