Outlook on biofuels in future studies: A systematic literature review

Reza Alizadeh*, Peter D. Lund, Leili Soltanisehat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)
338 Downloads (Pure)


Foresight methods are useful for long-range planning such as strategic energy management, energy policy, and renewable and sustainable energy planning to manage uncertainties. Futures studies may affect the anticipation and speculation of future and emerging technologies. In this paper, biofuels futures are explored based on a critical evaluation of the literature to draw the state-of-the-art for the future-oriented biofuel research. A six-fold typology mapping from two main futures studies methodologies is used. (i) descriptive scenarios, forecasts, and statistical scenarios as descriptive methods; (ii) roadmaps, visions, and backcasts as prescriptive methods. The expectations embodied in the literature are then explored through deriving research challenges about the future of biofuels: (1) the main motives and driving forces in a biofuel era; (2) the main obstacles or difficulties confronting a biofuel era; (3) the plausibility and importance of each of different scenarios; (4) key technological breakthroughs for the bioeconomy; (5) details about development, maturity and flourish; (6) biofuel era's significant achievement. The literature explains a wide range of plausible futures, from centralized systems related to technological breakthroughs to decentralized systems based on small-scale renewable. Fundamental technological elements are uncovered, and a plausible biofuel economy is drawn along with the necessary pathway to reach it. The review shows a general agreement that a biofuel economy would develop gradually, and a prompt shift to biofuels would require powerful governmental support coupled with significant disruptions such as changes in environmental principles of countries, technology breakthroughs, higher oil prices, and urgency of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110326
Number of pages14
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA2 Review article, Literature review, Systematic review


  • Biofuels
  • Forecast
  • Foresight
  • Future studies
  • Roadmapping
  • Scenario planning


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