MADISON -- What do the countries of Thailand, Uruguay and Ghana have in common" They all could become leading producers of the emerging renewable fuel known as biodiesel, says a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
The ease of manufacturing biodiesel from vegetable oils and animal fats has made it one of the most promising, near-term alternatives to fossil fuels. Seeking to understand which nations are best positioned today to enter the burgeoning biodiesel market, researchers Matt Johnston and Tracey Holloway of the Nelson Institute's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) ranked 226 countries according to their potential to make large volumes of biodiesel at low cost.
Reported online today (Oct. 17) in Environmental Science and Technology, the analysis uncovered many of the usual suspects, including the United States, a top soybean grower; and Brazil, already a major biodiesel producer. The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Spain also cracked the top ten in overall volume potential.
But the researchers say the study's true motivation was to identify developing countries that already export significant amounts of vegetable oil for profit, but may not have considered refining it into biodiesel. By exporting biodiesel - a higher value commodity - these countries could improve their trade balances, says Johnston, or use the fuel to offset their own energy needs.
"A lot of these countries don't have any petroleum resources and so they're having to import petroleum," he says. "At the same time, they're exporting vegetable oil that they could be turning into biodiesel and using domestically."
Overall, the study ranked Malaysia, Thailand, Colombia, Uruguay and Ghana as the developing nations most likely to attract biodiesel investment, not only because of their strong agricultural industries, but also due to their relative safety and stability, la
|Contact: Matt Johnston|
University of Wisconsin-Madison