Variable demand as a means to more sustainable biofuels and biobased materials

Iris Vural Gursel, Foluke Quist-Wessel, Hans Langeveld, Keith L. Kline, Maja Slingerland, Patricio Grassini, Kees Kwant, Wolter Elbersen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Abstract: Expanding the use of biofuels is controversial because of concerns about competition with food. Here we describe how varying the biofuel demand could help address these concerns. Variable biofuel demand can be implemented through market or policy mechanisms that adjust biofuel production according to feedstock availability, expanding or contracting in response to supply surplus or limitations. Based on a survey, an expert workshop, and relevant literature, the effects of a variable biofuel demand approach are evaluated with respect to food security, agricultural productivity, detrimental land-use change, and feedstock competition with biobased chemicals and materials. Here we provide evidence that variable biofuel demand can enhance the synergistic development of agriculture, renewable biomass feedstocks and biofuels, but implementation faces several challenges. Recommendations are provided for governance options to tackle these challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-31
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • agricultural productivity
  • biobased chemicals
  • bioeconomy policy
  • biofuels
  • food security
  • ILUC
  • market competition

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