Biofuels conference highlights dependence on subsidies

The Biofuels Finance & Investment World was recently held in London at which one of the clearest messages is that biofuels globally are completely dependent on government subsidies. For example, ethanol is energy and monetarily competitive without subsides when oil is $60 per barrel in the US, $35 per barrel in Brazil, and $115 in Europe. The EU Commission estimates that biodiesel is monetarily competitive without subsides when oil is $65 per barrel. But currently NYMEX West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery is running at $61 per barrel and has been as low as $55 in the last month.

Also mentioned at the conference was the need for biofuel certification criteria based on the actual feedstock used, and the impact biofuels are having on food production. It was said that sometime in 2007 world biodiesel consumption is expected to outstrip world soybean production, and also in 2007, US corn for ethanol consumption will again outstrip US corn exports.

Clearly biofuels have a lot of significant challenges in the year's to come. Although if crude oil prices were to hit $115 a barrel, biofuel producers would have a bonanza.

[Source: Louis Strydom / Ecoworld]

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