Biofuels and Development
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The potential for biofuels is particularly large in tropical countries, where crop yields are higher than in temperate regions; also land and labour costs are generally lower. With crude oil prices above US$ 0.40 per litre, biofuels are increasingly competitive with fossil-based fuels. Cost reduction, improved conversion efficiencies and upscaling can assist developing countries in supplying the commodity markets with biofuels at competitive prices. International agribusinesses look at biofuel production as an opportunity for market diversification alongside food-oriented commodities. Such investments can generate significant income for developing countries, but do not necessarily promote local income and development.
Sustainability aspects are very important to maintain the positive appreciation of biofuels by the general public. In the European Union for example, imported biofuels must meet certain sustainability criteria in order to qualify for financial incentives. Certified production, equitable land use and local employment are important issues for the emerging global market for biofuels to avoid disruption of the local economies in developing countries. In remote areas in developing countries, where the supply of fossil fuel is often unreliable and costly, locally grown biofuels can be an important asset for development.