A Regional Perspective on Biofuels in Asia

In Biofuels and Sustainability: Holistic Perspectives for Policy-making
Chapter: 14
Book Chapter
Biofuels and Sustainability book cover

In the beginning of the biofuel boom in the late 2000s, there were high expectations
in many Asian countries that biofuels could enhance energy security, provide jobs,
and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There were hopes that biofuels could
be produced and consumed on a large scale and high expectations of significant
biofuel trade. Some countries – particularly developing countries – hoped for biofu-
els to become a new major source of exports. For example, many in Indonesia hoped
that their country could become the “Middle East of biofuels.” Likewise, some
developed countries, including Japan and some EU countries, hoped that significant
biofuel imports, particularly from Southeast Asia, could diversity their energy
sources. Thus, at that time, a regional perspective or strategy might have expected
some countries (especially developing countries) to become major biofuel exporters
and others (especially developed countries) to become major biofuel importers,
with some potential interregional trade as well. Sustainability issues might be solved
through a mechanism to apply sustainability standards.
This vision of a regional strategy or perspective assumed that significant land and
other resources would be available to produce biofuel feedstocks on a reasonably
large scale and in a sustainable manner. However, it generally has been very difficult
to concretely identify large amounts of specific available land and assess whether
adequate water is available, even before addressing sustainability issues. This chapter
does not undertake a comprehensive study of available land and other resources,
but rather reviews some existing efforts. It also considers the prospects for large-
scale trade in biofuels to contribute to a major expansion of biofuel use.