The Best Crops for Biofuels, Visualized
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates the share of biofuels in the global transport sector by 2050 will reach 15 – 23 percent (%).
World Biofuel Production
|Country||Ethanol, 2020 (billion litres)|
|Rest of World||2.8|
In 2020, the United States (U.S.) and Brazil produced about 83% of the world’s ethanol. In the U.S., ethanol is primarily (94%) produced from corn, whereas, in Brazil sugar cane is the primary feedstock.
In the 2019/20 season, 35% of the U.S. corn supply (4.9 billion bushels) became ethanol feedstock.
|Country||Biodiesel, 2019 (billion litres)|
Biofuel Yields by Feedstock
Biofuel yields per acre depend on various factors including the feedstock and where the fuel is being produced. Ethanol produced from maize (corn) in the United States yields almost double that from maize produced in China.
Common feedstocks for biodiesel in the U.S. are soybean oil, corn oil, and recycled cooking oils.
Ethanol – Well-to Wheel GHG Life Cycle Analysis
A recent study examining the carbon intensity of corn ethanol in the United States found the greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol to be 46% lower than gasoline.
The Scully et al. team found that the components contributing the greatest to total carbon intensity were the ethanol production (29.6 gCO2e/MJ, 58% of total) and farming practices net of co-product credit (13.2 gCO2e/MJ, 26%) while land use change was a minor contributor (3.9 gCO2eMJ, 7%).
It should be noted, however, that GHG emissions impacts from biofuel production will vary significantly depending on the feedstock used to produce the fuel, the model used to calculate the results and the assumptions underlying the inputs.
gCO2e/MJ – grams of CO2 equivalent per megajoule
ANL – Argonne National Lab
CARB – California Air Resources Board
GHG = greenhouse gas
ICF – ICF International
USDA – United States Department of Agriculture
Melissa J. Scully et al. (2021) “Carbon intensity of corn ethanol in the United States: state of the science” Environ. Res. Lett. in press doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/abde08
Comparison of biofuel life-cycle GHG emissions assessment tools: The case studies of ethanol produced from sugarcane, corn, and wheat
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1364032119302552?via%3Dihub – !O.CavalettaA.BonomiacY.ZhangdE.WarnerdH.L.Chumd https://css.umich.edu/factsheets/biofuels-factsheet