Given Europe’s high import demand for fuel and its commitments to reduce CO2 emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, political pressure to implement strategies for the use of renewable energy is ever increasing. Thus, Europe aspires to use substantially more biofuels than it currently produces. Europe has considerable potential to expand its bioenergy program without jeopardizing its food production. This potential is highest in France, Germany, and Spain. Europe, however, is a relatively high-cost producer of biofuels compared with countries like Brazil. Although the existing programs have significant social and environmental benefits, these may be outweighed by their economic costs compared with alternative approaches for supporting rural areas and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Finding the right balance between supporting a domestic biofuels program and adopting more economically efficient approaches is essential, but any solution will be constrained by the vested interests that have already been created in the domestic industry. Europe can reduce the costs of biofuel production by using set-aside land that has limited alternative uses and by making technological improvements that increase the economic and energy efficiency of biomass crops.
Bioenergy and agriculture -- promises and challenges
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)