Biomass fuel - second generation

Expert study (2010)


Opportunities and risks of fuels from biomass 

The use of bio- or agro-fuels should reduce the consumption of fossil energy sources and cut the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. It is, however, becoming increasingly apparent that the positive effects are smaller than expected. In addition, the large-scale production of “first generation” biofuels often means using plants such as maize that would be suitable for food. Nevertheless, there are widespread incentives being created to raise the proportion of biofuels in energy consumption. The “second generation” of biofuels should be more expedient. Wood, straw and vegetable waste are used as raw materials. This does not compete with the production of food and should help to achieve a better ecological and energy balance. With regard to commercial applications, however, there is still a considerable need for research and development.

Why conduct a TA-SWISS study on this subject? 

Biofuels are now hailed as an effective solution, but there are nevertheless some doubts, because a number of production methods are still under development, and it is unclear which of these will ultimately prove most suitable for large scale production. A detailed investigation, taking current research findings into account, is therefore essential to enable these technologies to be fully assessed. In addition to questions of energy efficiency and eco-balance (effects on CO2 emissions), it will also have to consider economic and social aspects in detail and demonstrate the potential for future developments.


Results of the study
Executive summary

Seven proposals for exploiting the potential of biofuels

Media information
On the move with wood and manure - Local biofuels for sustainable mobility
By 2030, biofuels and electro-mobility could replace 41 per cent of the fuel Switzerland needs. Hence the latest study by the Centre for Technology Assessment TA-SWISS. But it will only happen under optimum conditions and if vehicles consume an average of just four litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

Learn more

Alcosuisse: Bioethanol

OECD Trade and Agricultural Directorate – Bioenergy


Supported by

  • Centre for Technology Assessment TA-SWISS
  • Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN
  • Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE
  • Swiss Academy of Sciences SCNAT
  • Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences SATW

Project mandataries

  • Dr Rainer Zah, Empa, St Gall (Project Manager)
  • Prof. Dr Claudia R. Binder, University of Zurich
  • Dr Stefan Bringezu, Wuppertal Institut, Germany
  • Dr Christoph Ritz, ProClim, Bern

Supervisory group

  • Dr Ruedi Jörg-Fromm, TA-SWISS Steering Committee (chairman of supervisory group)
  • Rosmarie Bär, alliance sud, Bern
  • Dr Marco Berg, Climate Cent Foundation, Zurich
  • Prof. Dr Richard Braun, BioLink, Bern
  • Dr Reto Burkard, Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture FOAG, Bern
  • Heinz Hänni, Swiss Farmers’ Union SBV, Brugg
  • Prof. Dr Christian Hardtke, University of Lausanne
  • Dr Sandra Hermle, Swiss Federal Office of Energy SFOE
  • Roger Löhrer, Touring Club Schweiz TCS, Emmen
  • René Longet, equiterre, Geneva
  • Prof. Dr Wolfgang Nentwig, University of Bern
  • Dr Gerhard Stucki, Balewa AG, Liestal
  • Dr Samuel Stucki, Paul Scherrer Institut PSI, Villigen
  • Dr Roland von Arx, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, Bern

TA-SWISS Project management

Dr. Adrian Rüegsegger, TA-SWISS


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