Page Loading

Foresighting report: sustainable transport fuels


This report summarises the status of the first generation of biofuels and reports on the ongoing development of the second generation, with particular focus on marine algae as an alternative source of biomass that is now capable of delivering upon its potential. It concludes by outlining the emerging research into the subsequent generation of socalled ‘solar fuels’.


The methodology took the form of desk-based research.


The report argues that for the numerous options in fuel type and feedstock to be commercially successful any feedstock-fuel coupling must meet a number of requirements. These include: availability in large quantity and at competitive price; low processing costs; and meeting or exceeding existing fuel specification for the targeted use. The production of fuels from biomass meets many of these requirements and has become a popular choice for a number of developers. Successful demonstration projects over the last few decades have led to implementation on a much larger scale. While this first generation of projects has been widely regarded as successful they have generated criticism that the associated detrimental effects on the environment and global standard of living will make further implementation unsustainable. To alleviate these pressures, much effort is currently devoted to developing a second generation of bio-fuels that would have improved sustainability. To reach this goal, a number of separate avenues, sometimes interlinked through the feedstock source and/or conversion technology into bio-fuels, are being pursued. A number of sources that can be considered potentially sustainable are identified: agricultural production (eg sugar plants) not resulting from dramatic change of land use (eg deforestation); vegetable oil from set-aside land, or from run-down lands; woody crops or residues/thinnings from sustainably managed plantations; agricultural residues (corn stover, straw); micro-algae developed on waste land or salted lakes; and macro-algae (seaweeds) sustainably cultivated in a marine environment. The successful implementation of the second generation faces many technical and economic challenges which offer opportunities for investment into research or diversification. Considering both the availability of marine resources and the strong market opportunity present in Scotland, there is a strong argument for ITI to invest in this area.


There were no recommendations as this was not within the remit of the report.

Author ITI Energy
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
    Digital markets and enabling technologies, Energy