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Biofuels Research in the CGIAR

A Perspective from the SCIENCE COUNCIL








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    Book (stand-alone)
    Biofuels and the sustainability challenge
    A global assessment of sustainabilty issues, trends and policies for biofuels and related feedstocks
    2013
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    Biofuels global emergence in the last two decades is met with increased concerns over climate change and sustainable development. This report addresses the core issue of biofuel sustainability of biofuels and related feedstocks, drawing from a wide range of sustainability related studies, reports, policy initiatives. The report critically examine the economic, environmental and social sustainability dimensions of biofuels and review the major certification initiatives, schemes and re gulations. In doing so, the report relies on extensive review of a number of country case studies covering a broad range of current biofuel-feedstocks systems. The report analysis clearly distinguish feedstock efficiency (in terms of biofuel yields per unit of land) from sustainability, especially under limiting resource (irrigated water) or sensitive areas (carbon stocks). Also, long run economic viability depend on the future policy support, technical innovations in biofuel systems, economics of biofuel supply and demand and tradeoffs between food and energy uses as well as feedstock productivity gains. Biofuels can present both advantages and risks for environmental sustainability; the latter being often difficult to measure or monitor and may conflict with economic sustainability unless great strides in productivity gains are achieved. Social sustainability is the weakest link in current biofuel certification schemes owing to intrinsic local factors and as eff orts target more few negative social impacts; much less focus is placed on inclusive processes that strengthen marginal stockholders participation and benefits. Biofuel certification schemes need to be more smallholder inclusive, perhaps through policy initiatives. Finally, poor developing countries, especially with abundant land and biomass production potential, need to prioritise food security and poverty reduction. In many cases, biofuel models that encourage small scale integrate d bioenergy systems may offer higher rural development impacts. FDI-induced largerscale biofuel projects, on the other hand, may be suitable in those situations where countries have sufficient industrial capacity, besides land and biomass potential, and when these biofuel projects can be fully integrated into domestic energy strategies that do not conflict with food production potential and food security.
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    A decision support tool for sustainable bioenergy
    An overview
    2011
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    Bioenergy has received a lot of attention over the past years, both from the side of governments looking for ways to mitigate climate change, ensure energy security, strengthen the agricultural sector and promote development, and investors seizing business opportunities that occurred largely due to government support in the form of targets and mandates. At the same time, a number of concerns have been voiced regarding potential impacts on food security and the environment related to the rapid expansion of bioenergy feedstock production, and in particular, competition between different land uses. This tool has been developed to assist decision makers in the process of developing a national bioenergy policy and strategy and/or assessing investment opportunities.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Algae-based Biofuels
    Applications and Co-products
    2010
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    The possible competition for land makes it impossible to produce enough first generation biofuel to offset a large percentage of the total fuel consumption for transportation. As opposed to land-based biofuels produced from agricultural feedstocks, cultivation of algae for biofuel does not necessarily use agricultural land and requires only negligible amounts of freshwater, and therefore competes less with agriculture than first generation biofuels. Combined with the promise of high productivi ty, direct combustion gas utilization, potential wastewater treatment, year-round production, the biochemical pathways and cellular composition of algae can be influenced by changing cultivation conditions and therefore tailored on local needs. On the other hand, microalgae, as opposed to most plants, lack heavy supporting structures and anchorage organs which pose some technical limitations to their harvesting. The reasons for investigating algae as a biofuel feedstock are strong but thes e reasons also apply to other products that can be produced from algae. There are many products in the agricultural, chemical or food industry that could be produced using more sustainable inputs and which can be produced locally with a lower impact on naturalresources. Co-producing some of these products together with biofuels, can make the process economically viable, less dependent from imports and fossil fuels, locally self sufficient and expected to generate new jobs, with a positive ef fect on the overall sustainability. This document provides an overview of practical options available for co-production from algae and their viability and suitability for developing countries.

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