Sweetness and Power - Public Policies and the 'Biofuels Frenzy'

R. Ackrill, Adrian Kay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last decade, there has been a huge policy-led expansion in biofuels production and consumption. This paper presents some of the findings of a funded research project which has sought to identify the drivers of biofuels policies over this period. It focuses on the EU, US and Brazil which, together, represent about 90 per cent of global biofuels markets. Biofuels policies have three key drivers: as a partial substitute for fossil fuels, to lower greenhouse gas emissions; as a way of improving energy security, by diversifying away from fossil fuels and from the limited number of countries with fossil-fuel reserves; and as a means of promoting rural development, given the opportunities offered by the production of biofuel feedstocks and their processing into biofuels. One particular challenge for both the EU and US has been to create and sustain a broad coalition of stakeholder interests in support of biofuels and biofuel policies. Both have sought to promote ‘conventional’ biofuels now, whilst trying to aid the development of ‘advanced’ biofuels industries that will address problems with existing technologies. The continued failure to deliver significant quantities of advanced biofuels raises questions for biofuels policymakers going forward, not least dealing with the downsides of conventional biofuels that, so far, have not been mitigated by a successful transition to advanced biofuels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Early online date13 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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