November 3, 2009


UK scientist queries sustainability of first generation biofuels



There are "severe questions" around the sustainability of most first generation biofuels, the UK's chief scientific advisor told Dow Jones Newswires Monday (November 2).


Speaking on the sidelines of a Food Security conference Robert Watson said the UK's venture into wheat-based ethanol - which expects to see several plants in operation in the coming 12 months - needs to be "looked at carefully."


According to Watson, biofuels are produced for three main reasons: energy security, rural development and to reduce greenhouse gases. However, it isn't clear whether biofuels are meeting any or all of these objectives, Watson said.


"The only way we're going to meet the 10 percent (European Union) target by 2020 is with second and third generation biofuels," Watson said.


But there isn't yet evidence these targets can be met sustainably, or that new technologies for second and third generation biofuels will be developed in time, he told Dow Jones Newswires. "It will take the next couple of years to assess if we can or can't make that target," said Watson.