Though automakers are scrambling to roll out hybrid and electric vehicles as fast as they can, BP believes that biofuels are the only way forward—at least for the time being.
Olivier Mace, head of strategy, regulatory affairs and communications at BP Biofuels, explained at a London conference yesterday that demand in China and India, two of the fastest-growing markets, would make biofuels at least 12% of the worldwide road transport fuel mix by 2030. According to Reuters, Mace played down the roles of electricity in fuel generation, saying only that it might one day play a role—but not in the near future.
Of course, BP has a vested interest in the biofuels market. Last year, the company spent $98 million purchasing biofuel startup Verenium's cellulosic ethanol business. BP is also building the U.K.'s largest bioethanol plant—a $400 million project—as part of a venture with British Sugar and DuPont. A quick look at the BP Biofuels site reveals the massive extent of the company's biofuel investments.
And BP may be right. Electric vehicles are moving into the U.S. market slowly. In developing countries, the pace will likely be even slower—EV battery technology is still expensive, and rolling out charging infrastructures takes both time and lots of money. Biofuels, on the other hand, don't require a major overhaul of the car manufacturing process, and can easily be sold alongside gasoline at the local filling station.
Only time will tell whether biofuels ultimately beat EVs, but in the meantime, we need all of the resources we can get to transition away from petroleum.