How sustainable are biofuels? Answers and further questions arising from an ecological footprint perspective

Bioresour Technol. 2009 Aug;100(16):3825-30. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2009.01.059. Epub 2009 Mar 5.


By using biofuels bioproductive land is devoted to supply energy. As the bioproductive land area on our planet is confined and actually decreasing, biofuels compete against other demands like the production of food, industrial resources, nature conservation etc. This not only results in higher prices for agricultural and forestry products, but also increases environmental pressures. The aim of this paper is to clarify if and to which extent biofuels might be sustainable by applying modified calculation methods of the ecological footprint. It can be concluded that biofuels can offer huge environmental benefits compared to fossil fuels. Yet, if and to which extent biofuel production is sustainable depends on the amount of land available and, therefore, can only be decided in a regional context. Ecological footprinting can significantly support these regional decision making processes.

MeSH terms

  • Austria
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Ecology / methods*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Energy-Generating Resources / economics*
  • Models, Theoretical*