Favorable Policies Spur Biofuel Growth
Production and use of biofuels—fuels derived from crops and agricultural wastes—advanced rapidly in 2004, spurred by agricultural, environmental, and consumer interests. Brazilian and U.S. government efforts to provide alternatives to high-priced oil helped grow the market for ethanol fuels in the 1980s, but it then languished for much of the 1990s. Since 2000, however, rising environmental concerns, new technologies, and the desire to find new income streams for farmers have provided a large boost.
The European Union is the third-largest producer of biofuels but the leading manufacturer of biodiesel. With the help of tax breaks for diesel fuel, nearly 1.6 billion liters of biodiesel were produced in Europe in 2003, a 43-percent increase over 2001. Many European vehicle manufacturers have approved the use of 100-percent biodiesel in their engines. The growth of biofuels may accelerate even further as more countries introduce favorable policies.
"Biofuel Use Growing Rapidly," in Vital Signs 2005, pp. 38-39