Biofuels - a contribution assessment for the global energy transition integrating aspects of technology, resources, economics, sustainability and alternative options
Asercheva, Elizaveta (2018)
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Burning of fossil fuels is one of the main drivers accelerating the climate change. COP21 agreement adopted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference has addressed the climate change. In order to comply with the targets the countries need to implement energy transition from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. Biofuels are one of the alternatives for fossil fuels in transportation. Though the constraints for their deployment include the low commercialization level, limited resource availability, uncertainty regarding cost competitiveness with fossil fuels, sustainability concerns and better alternatives in the future such as synthetic fuels. The objective of the thesis is to assess the biofuels contribution towards the global energy transition from the different perspectives such as technology, resources, economics, sustainability and alternative options. The work is based on secondary data, which was collected and analyzed. The cost calculations were done by means of levelized cost of fuel formula. The cost projections for biofuels were done based on the feedstock cost estimations for the future. The findings have shown that there are many types of biofuels but only conventional biofuels, which are generally associated with sustainability constraints, are commercially available. Nowadays the United States corn and Brazilian sugarcane ethanol are the major biofuels on the market. Sugarcane ethanol has excellent emission reduction, good energy return on energy investment as well as dramatically decreasing costs in the future. Whereas corn ethanol has average emission reduction performance and energy return on energy investment as well as its costs slightly grow in the future. Therefore it is clear that sugarcane ethanol will stay on the market long time in the future while corn ethanol will be extruded by a cheaper and more sustainable alternative. Biofuels cannot satisfy the global transportation demand alone so their contribution towards global energy transition is limited. Thus, there should be an energy mix of conventional and advanced biofuels, synthetic fuels and electrification of transport aimed at satisfying the demand of different transportation sectors.
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