Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Global Biofuel Production

Here are updated graphs of global biofuel production through 2009. The latest statistics are from the Renewables 2010 Global Status Report.  The graph above shows volume of biofuel production (expressed in millions of barrels/day), broken out by ethanol and biodiesel.  The main takeaway is that biofuel growth slowed sharply in 2009 with the lower fuel prices of the great recession, but production did not actually fall.

The next graph shows the share of US ethanol in the global biofuel total.

US corn ethanol production continues to be about half of the global total (the other major players are Brazilian sugar ethanol and European biodiesel production).

Expressed as a fraction of the global liquid fuel supply (from the EIA), it looks like this:

We are up to just shy of 2% of global fuel being biofuels in 2009 (probably we crossed that in 2010).


Alexander Ac said...

At least one unsustainable exponential growth of supposedly renewable energy.

I suspect growth in solar and wind energy is no different.

...and, when oil is gone in 30-50 years, what will support these swaths of renewable infrastructure?

Will see. And the M3 money supply still in contraction (US) and in stagnation (Europe)...


Stuart Staniford said...


I disagree - solar and wind don't put up the price of food!

Emil said...

I do not have great hope for biofuels. And I wouldn't like to count the U.S. ethanol production since it's counter-productive and ouright harmful to the world.

Solar is the thing I'd be mainly interested in, especially as the price as nosedived in the recent 3 years by about 40 % due to technological advancement.

It's a matter of time since it becomes economical without government help, if it isn't already(or on the verge).

The question is if it's too late, even if it was economical today, to implement the large-scale changes needed together with a whole new transportation fleet mainly on electric energy.

Emil said...

Oh, Stuart, you might be interested in this:

"US Department of Agriculture says food prices will continue to surge; World's top food exporter to see rise of 18% this year"


Posted a few days ago. In relation to your increasing focus on food.


Kamil said...

I read that EROEI of US corn ethanol is from 0.5 to 1.3, is it true?

It doesn't really mather that exponential grow of alternatives is unsustainable, because it is only required to fill the gap created by oil and gas.

The great problem of solar and wind energy is storing it, because it is a highly unstable source.

Alexander Ac said...

Hi Stuart,

I know that S and W do not contribute to rising food prices. At least you need less oil and soil to build and maintain them.

What I meant was that one would not get such rapid growth in S and W without subsidies and in some cases these subsidies helped to create bubble growth.

What will happen (with alternative energy) when the subsidies are over is anybody's guess...

I would support de-centralized sources of Solar and Wind, not centralized ones, as is happening. But then, energy (and economic) efficiency is unfortunately a priority for energy policy, which would be fine ok if you suggest infinite economic growth...

Kamil said...

Why would any rational man suggest infinite economic growth?

Uranium and coal reserves are sufficient at least for 100 years, probably a lot more. Coal (300-400y), Uranium (tousands of years). Why should people plan their economy for more than 100 years?

Renevable alternatives are fine if they are econmic and with good EROEI.

Alexander Ac said...


"Coal reserves are sufficient at least for 100 years" - it means you ignore climate change problem?

- how exactly does "uranium" solves the problem is peak oil?


Chak007 said...

Stuart, Love your posts. You had once mentioned that if we convert all cereals to biofuels, we will stillk only produce about 20-22 mbpd which is about a quarter or fifth of global oil consumption. I was wondering if you added the cost of energy that goes into in food production.if you net that out, the proportion may be even smaller? I have mentioned your big pool small pool point to some people, and they find it fascinating.