Biofuel scenarios in a water perspective: the global blue and green water footprint of road transport in 2030

A.R. van Lienden, Winnie Gerbens-Leenes, Arjen Ysbert Hoekstra, Theodorus H. van der Meer

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The trend towards substitution of conventional transport fuels by biofuels requires additional water. The EU aims In the last two centuries, fossil fuels have been our major source of energy. However, issues concerning energy security and the quality of the environment have given an impulse to the development of alternative, renewable fuels. Particularly the transport sector is expected to steadily switch from fossil fuels to a larger fraction of biofuels - liquid transport fuels derived from biomass. Many governments believe that biofuels can replace substantial volumes of crude oil and that they will play a key role in diversifying the sources of energy supply in the coming decades. The growth of biomass requires water, a scarce resource. The link between water resources and (future) biofuel consumption, however, has not been analyzed in great detail yet. Existing scenarios on the use of water resources usually only consider the changes in food and livestock production, industry and domestic activity. The aim of this research is to assess the change in water use related to the expected increase in the use of biofuels for road transport in 2030, and subsequently evaluate the contribution to potential water scarcity. The study builds on earlier research on the relation between energy and water and uses the water footprint (WF) methodology to investigate the change in water demand related to a transition to biofuels in road transport. Information about this transition in each country is based on a compilation of different energy scenarios. The study distinguishes between two different bio-energy carriers, bio-ethanol and biodiesel, and assesses the ratio of fuel produced from selected first-generation energy crops per country. For ethanol these crops are sugar cane, sugar beet, sweet sorghum, wheat and maize. For biodiesel they are soybean, rapeseed, jatropha, and oil palm.
Original languageUndefined
Place of PublicationDelft, the Netherlands
PublisherUnesco-IHE Institute for Water Education
Number of pages82
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Publication series

NameValue of water research report 43
PublisherUNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education


  • METIS-266329
  • IR-77192

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