Cutting through the biofuel confusion: A conceptual framework to check the feasibility, viability and desirability of biofuels

M. Ripa, J.J. Cadillo-Benalcazar, M. Giampietro
2021 Energy Strategy Reviews  
A B S T R A C T Biofuels represent a complex issue in the sustainability discourse as they require the simultaneous consideration of different dimensions and scales of analysis. This situation explains the co-existence of contrasting 'scientific evidence' about their performance. This paper presents a novel conceptual framework that integrates four key aspects of the performance of biofuels: (1) the social factors determining the desirability of biofuel use on the demand sidewhy do we want to
more » ... oduce biofuels?; (2) the internal technical and economic constraints affecting the viability of their mode of production on the supply sidehow can we produce biofuels?; (3) the external biophysical constraints limiting the feasibility of their productionwhat are the material limits imposed by the availability of natural resources?; (4) the level of openness of the biofuel system referring to the imports used to overcome local limitsthe level of externalization of the requirement of natural resources and technical production factors reducing energy security. The proposed framework generates a biophysical characterization of the supply function of a biofuel system (which inputs are needed to generate the supply) contextualized against a biophysical characterization of the societal demand (what inputs the society is ready to invest in the energy system in order to obtain the supply).
doi:10.1016/j.esr.2021.100642 fatcat:paqbwhjkirbo7oxsfdrif4lz64