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Advanced Biofuels: The Potential for a UK Industry, NNFCC 11-011

This seventy-two page report examines the potential of advanced biofuels in the UK.

Author Lucy Nattrass, Dr Claire Smith & Dr Geraint Evans
Published 17 Nov 2011
Industry Biofuels
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New technologies – like gasification and pyrolysis – allow biofuels to be made from a wide range of sustainable materials, such as household rubbish. Until recently these technologies were confined to laboratories but we are now beginning to unlock their huge potential.

By 2020, 10 per cent of the energy used in UK road and rail transport must come from renewable sources – this is the equivalent of replacing 4.3 million tonnes of fossil oil each year.

This study, commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Transport (DfT), and written by the NNFCC found that due to limited availability and competing demands for sustainable vegetable oils, conventional biofuels are likely to produce just 3.7 to 6.6 per cent of the energy needed in road and rail transport by 2020.

As a result, there is a very real need for the UK to develop a range of biofuels using sustainable feedstocks. Under favourable economic conditions and strong improvements in policy support, projections suggest advanced biofuels could meet up to 4.3 per cent of the UK’s renewable transport fuel target by 2020.

This would require around 1 million tonnes of woody biomass, 2 million tonnes of wheat (butanol) and 4.4 million tonnes of household, commercial and industrial wastes.

At this scale advanced biofuels would save the UK 3.2 million tonnes of CO2 each year – equivalent to taking nearly a million cars off the road – and create 6000 full-time construction jobs and over 2000 permanent jobs supplying and operating the plants.

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