Global Perspective on Production of Biotechnology-based Bioenergy and Major Trends


Oct 22, 2013 (3 years and 5 months ago)


Global Perspective on Production of Biotechnology

Bioenergy and Major Trends

Simonetta Zarrilli

United Nations Conference on

Trade and Development


Rome, 12 October 2007

Why Bioenergy?

Economic growth and increasing population will
lead to 1.6% p.a. increase in global energy demand
between 2006 and 2030 (IEA, 2006)

fossil fuels cost
energy security

concerns and
climate change

preoccupations have
motivated countries to explore alternative energy
sources, including bioenergy

energy produced
through the processing of biomass (any derived
organic matter available on a renewable basis): e.g.
biogas, bioethanol, biodiesel

Concerns about high fossil fuels prices and energy
security and efforts towards climate change mitigation
are expected to feature highly in the international
agenda in the years to come. This will keep interest for
bioenergy high

Bioenergy perspective by 2050

Bioenergy may satisfy 1/3 of the world’s
future energy needs


Represents 1
3 trillion US$ market value

Involves some 10% of the world land
surface (
Copernicus Institute for Sustainable
Development and Innovation Management)

Biofuel Classification

First Generation (from sugars, grains, or seeds)


rapeseed, soybeans, sunflowers, jatropha, coconut, palm, recycled cooking


From grains or seeds: corn, wheat, potato

From sugar crops: sugar beets, sugarcane

Second Generation (from lignocellulose: crop residues, grasses,
woody crops)

Biological fuels

Ethanol via enzymatic hydrolysis

Thermochemical fuels (most made via “gasification”)

Tropsch liquids (FTL)

Methanol, MTBE, gasoline

Dimethyl ether (DME)

Mixed alcohols

Green diesel

First Generation Biofuels

Use of sugar or starch crops creates limitations:

Competition for food uses

Plants optimized for food, not energy

Only part of the plant is converted to biofuel

product sales often important for acceptable

Only modest energy and GHG benefits, except
with sugarcane ethanol (due to greater utilization
of the above
ground biomass)

Can blend with existing petroleum
derived motor

minimal infrastructure change

scale experience in Brazil and USA

Relatively high costs (except sugarcane ethanol in
Brazil) due to high feedstock cost

Cost penalties less severe at smaller scales

Second Generation Biofuels

Made from lignocellulosic materials

Biomass that is generally not edible

Larger fraction of the plant is converted to fuel

Plants can be bred for energy characteristics (high yield, low

Two generic processing routes: biological or thermochemical

Can blend with petroleum fuels in most cases

Substantial energy/environment benefits compared with
most 1

generation biofuels due primarily to greater biomass
usability per unit land area

Greater capital
intensity than 1

generation biofuels, but
lower feedstock costs


larger scale facilities needed for optimum economics

The role of biotechnology

Biotechnology is not a source of energy, but a scientific
method that provides tools to produce energy

Biotechnology permits the

modification/selection of

plants to enhance their

conversion to fuels

Biotechnology can be used

for yield increase, better

biomass quality, disease


Biotechnology can be used to

facilitate the manufacturing

process (f
rom biomass to


Concerns related to



More acceptable for


The International Trade Dimension

Biomass & biofuel trade has been limited in the past as
most of the production has been for domestic

Several countries will not be in a position to produce
enough biofuels to satisfy their demand; some
countries/regions are endowed with conditions which
allow them to produce biofuels and feedstock

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escalate rapidly to satisfy increasing worldwide

concerns about the sustainability of

biofuels development

Flows of ethanol in 2000 (thousand tons)

Total trade of ethanol: 3 billion liters (2004)

Total production of ethanol: 51 billion liters (2006)

Flows of ethanol in 2004 (thousand tons)

Biofuels Certification Initiatives

National governments and regional groupings: Belgium, the
Netherlands, UK, Brazil, Canada, Germany, US
European Commission

Companies: e.g. Electrabel, Essent

NGOs: e.g. WWF

International Bodies and Initiatives

International Networks and Roundtables: e.g. RSPO, RSP

What for?

Ensuring that biofuels/biomass production contribute to climate

change mitigation, improved energy security and rural development,

without having detrimental side
effects on food security, land use,

environmental protection, labour conditions, etc.

Specific concerns related to biotechnology

Several certification systems do not allow the use of GMOs. These
are for example FSC for forest and all certification systems for
ecological agriculture

EurepGAP certification program: (i) Planting of any GMO must
comply with all existing regulations in the countries of production
and consumption (ii) The use of GMO cultivars must be agreed
with individual customers prior to planting; (iii) Suppliers must
inform all customers of any developments relating to the use of
products derived from genetic modification before engagement

Cramer report: no indicator has been included for GMOs. The
views with regard to GMOs are divided and the discussion about
this lies beyond the field of activity of the project group

Why is certification important

Market access and market acceptability

Only certified biofuels may count
towards biofuel blending targets

Only certified biofuels may benefit from
tax breaks and other incentives

WTO Implications

The “Like products” issue

“Less favourable treatment” (


The role of non
WTO law (Cartagena

« Grey area »


Development Implications

Bionergy is a development opportunity for
developing countries, especially if appropriate
policies are put in place; “second” generation
technologies may alleviate some of the present

Access and adaptation to technology

Developing country involvement in
sustainability certification for biofuels/biomass