A comprehensive analysis of the current and future role of biofuels for transport in the European Union (EU)

Massimo Raboni, Paolo Viotti, Andrea G. Capodaglio


The production of biofuels is strongly supported all over the world as a renewable energy source for reducing dependence on the unstable oil market. Bioethanol, the main biofuel produced in the world, is widely used to power vehicles in both the USA and Brazil, but concerns exist in both places regarding its sustainability. In Brazil, it is produced from a by product of the sugar cane industry, while in the USA it is manufactured from food crops. The production of biogas and biodiesel is growing rapidly, but neither has outpaced the production of bioethanol. The European Union (EU) is greatly interested in this issue, and in 2011 adopted an extensive strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions related to transport by 60% by the year 2050. In order to achieve this result, the current European transportation system must be transformed. This ambitious goal will require the implementation of complex measures including the reduction of fossil fuels in favor of renewable fuels. This program has various options regarding the development of biofuels (e. g., biogas, bioethanol and biodiesel) and their related technologies, which are still on trial (mainly regarding the bioethanol production), and must also analyze their sustainability from a social and economic standpoint. The paper discusses the use of biofuels for transport in the European setting, and shows that their sustainability may result in relevant negative social effects due mainly to the use of land for energy crops (e.g., change of food price and world food shortage).


biodiesel; bioethanol; European policy; sustainable mobility

Revista Ambiente & Água. ISSN:1980-993X DOI:10.4136/1980-993X

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