Challenges for the global biodiesel industry

After rapid growth in the past few years, the global biodiesel industry is now facing a number of important challenges (Table 16.1), which will be influential to the future. Biodiesel markets in 2008-09 are characterised by high turbulence. Some short — and long-term challenges for biodiesel producers are common to the whole industry, while others are more regionally specific. The highly competitive biodiesel industry is transiting to alternative feedstocks, emerging technologies, and revised government policies favouring sustainable feedstocks and fuels. There is a need to improve cost efficiencies in new technologies, to improve logistics and infrastructure, and to encourage effective collaboration with automotive and agricultural industries.

Advanced feedstock production technologies are being pursued, including use of crop selection optimisation, growing of dedicated energy crops such as jatropha on marginal lands, and eventually use of algae-based oils which do not compete for fresh water or farm land. Until these more efficient modes

Table 16.1 Challenges to the biodiesel industry

• Sustainability

• Cost efficiency

• Feedstock sources and supply

• Energy policy/regulatory issues

• Social and environmental impact

• Manufacturing technologies

• Next-generation biodiesel

• Biodiesel fuel quality

• International quality standards

• Industrial and customer acceptance/awareness

• Production capacity

• Marketing

• Utilisation of by-products

• Plant economics

• Financial crisis 2008

of crop production become commercialised, the ad hoc nature of current biodiesel growth will eventually impact global food supplies and long-term sustainability of agricultural production. With the possibility of large gains in crop yields alone, it may be possible to significantly increase biodiesel production without requiring additional land or sacrificing food supply.

A successful biodiesel economy depends on a number of factors as detailed below.

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