What is Biofuel?

Biofuel is a type of fuel whose energy is derived from waste plant and animal matter. Biofuels include fuels derived from biomass conversion as well as solid biomass.

There are two main types of biofuels: bioethanol and biodiesel.
Bioethanol is used as a replacement for gasoline and biodiesel is used as a replacement for diesel.

Biofuels represent an immense growth area around the world and have an important role to play in displacing the types of fuels the world has used in the past.

Biofuels can come from a wide variety of sources and can be roughly divided into four categories or “generations:”

  1. First generation biofuels are made from sugars, starches, oil, and animal fats that are converted into fuel using already-known processes or technologies. These fuels include biodiesel, bioalcohols, ethanol, and biogasses, like methane captured from landfill decomposition.
  2. Second generation biofuels are made from non-food crops or agricultural waste, especially ligno-cellulosic biomass like switch-grass, willow, or wood chips.
  3. Third generation biofuels are made from algae or other quickly growing biomass sources.
  4. Fourth generation biofuels are made from specially engineered plants or biomass that may have higher energy yields or lower barriers to cellulosic breakdown or are able to be grown on non-agricultural land or bodies of water.

Background of Biofuels development in Nigeria
Nigeria presently has a policy on bio-fuels development which is the Nigerian Bio-fuels Policy and Incentives (2007). The Policy Document was approved by the Federal Executive Council on June 20th, 2007 and gazetted as a national bio-fuels policy at the same time. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation was given the mandate to create an environment for the take-off of a domestic ethanol fuel industry. The aim is to gradually reduce the nation’s dependence on imported gasoline, reduce environmental pollution while at the same time creating a commercially viable industry that can precipitate sustainable domestic jobs.

The framework of the policy and the incentives is meant to create an enabling environment that is expected to sensitize and catalyze the development of the country‘s bio-fuels industry. The bio-fuels programme constitutes a major and unique attempt to integrate the agricultural sector of the economy with the downstream petroleum sector, while fostering the use of other renewable energy sources. The 2007 policy document however contains some lapses identified by stakeholders; these include:

  1. Import dependence
  2. Monopoly/state control provisions

However, in 2010 PPPRA was given Ministerial directive to undertake review of the Nigerian Bio-fuels Policy and Incentives (2007). The review was absolute and was concluded in the same year.

The objective of the programme is to firmly establish a low-carbon economy by utilizing agricultural products as means of reducing carbon emission from fossil based fuels. The policy shall link the agricultural and energy sector, with the underlying aim of stimulating development in agricultural sector.
Specific to automotive use, the policy will allow:
A the Minister of Petroleum Resources make appropriate regulations pursuant to his powers under the petroleum act whereby Biofuels blends shall become available for sale and use within Nigeria.

In broad terms the policy aims to;

  1. Reduce carbon emission from fossil fuel.
  2. Promote job creation, rural and agricultural development and technology acquisition and transfer
  3. Provide a framework which is capable of attracting foreign investment in the Biofuels industry
  4. Streamline the roles of the various tiers of Government in order to ensure an orderly development of the Biofuels industry in Nigeria.
  5. Involve the oil and gas industry in a more purposeful development of other sectors of the nation’s economy.