Biofuel: Greenwashing or greening?

Atle Midttun, Knut Myrum Næss

Was biofuel not the saving grace the politicians hoped it would be? The story is a tank full of paradoxes, according to Atle Midttun and Knut M. Næss.


In 2014, the Norwegian government claimed there was a tremendous potential for a climate-friendly and internationally oriented biofuel industry.

However, wood-based biofuels failed to arrive and the market was eventually flooded with cheap imports.

Parts of the forest industry is doing well on higher value products, but the jury is still out on biodiesel and advanced biofuels. It seemed like a success story initially, but an intense public debate in Norway regarding the use of palm oil eventually led to a sharp decrease in sales.

What if advanced biofuel can solve its problems with sustainability and volume ‒ does it stand a chance? The short answer is «only if the price is right». Competition is fierce, both in the fuel retail sector and among professional transporters.

The rapidly increasing sales of electric vehicles also gives biofuels a limited window of opportunity to gain any ground in the market for personal vehicles in Norway.

The danger is that when forest-based biofuels eventually show up, it may already be too late.

In the video below, taken from their presentation at the Urban Green Growth Conference at BI on May 23, Midttun and Næss discuss the following issues:

  • Will advanced biodiesel solve the problems with sustainability and volume?
  • Planned forest-based biofuel projects
  • The need for green transport
  • Biofuel as a transition in inter-green competition
  • Can biofuels become cheap enough before the window of opportunity closes?
  • The discussions about «good» and «bad» palm oil
  • Segment succession in a learning perspective

Biofuels: Greenwashing or greening?

Published 28. May 2019

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