Logistics Research

, Volume 5, Issue 1–2, pp 21–31 | Cite as

Key issues of the upstream segment of biofuels supply chain: a qualitative analysis

  • Maria de Lourdes BravoEmail author
  • Mohamed M. Naim
  • Andrew Potter
Original Paper


The role that liquid biofuels will play in future energy systems will depend on biomass-to-energy supply chain to overcome the barriers that may hinder the development and international trade, as well as a sustainable and efficient production of biomass resources. This research paper is based on an extensive literature review, and its purpose is to identify and to investigate the variables that, throughout the agricultural biomass-to-energy supply chain, give rise to the barriers that are common to most varieties of biomass. For achieving it and to assess the effects of referred barriers were used techniques of the Soft Systems methodology. Although biomass-to-energy supply chains are diverse in terms of pattern and operations, the characteristic of the barriers involved in the research provides a broad insight into the issues and challenges to define consistent strategies and interventions for overcoming them. So, this review might be useful for further research related to agricultural biomass-to-energy supply chain optimization that is needed.


Biofuel Agricultural biomass supply chain Biofuels supply chain Agricultural biomass trade and development 



This project was conducted with funding from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, (FCT), Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior, Portugal, and supported by Logistics Systems Dynamics Group, Cardiff University, United Kingdom.


  1. 1.
    Ahumada O, Villalobos RJ (2009) Application of planning models in the agri-food supply chain: a review. Eur J Oper Res 195:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Allen J, Browne M, Hunter A, Boyd J, Palmer H (1998) Logistics management and costs of biomass fuel supply. Int J Phys Distrib Logistics Manag 28(5/6):463–477Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    An H, Wilhelm WE, Searcy SW et al (2011) Biofuel and petroleum-based fuel supply chain research: a literature review. Biomass Bioenergy 35:3763–3774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Banse M, van Meijl H, Tabeau A, Woltjer G (2008) Impact of EU biofuels policies on world agricultural and food markets. In: Paper presented at 107th European Association of Agricultural Economists, EAAE, seminar “modelling of agricultural and rural development policies”. Sevilla, Spain, 29 Jan–1 Feb 2008. pp 29, 107th seminar, Jan 30–Feb 1 2008, Sevilla, Spain.
  5. 5.
    Bozell JJ (2008) Feedstocks for the future—biorefinery production of chemicals from renewable carbon. Clean 36(8):641–647. doi: 10.1002/clen.200800100Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bravo ML, Naim MM, Potter AT (2010) Transportation issues in the upstream biofuels supply chain. In: Proceedings of the annual conference of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME), Lisbon, Portugal, 7–9 JulyGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Charles MB, Ryan R, Ryan N, Oloruntoba R (2007) Public policy and biofuels: the way forward? Energy Policy 35:5737–5746CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Checkland P (2000) Soft systems methodology: a thirty year retrospective. Syst Res Behav Sci 17:S11–S58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cherubini F (2010) The biorefinery concept: using biomass instead of oil for producing energy and chemicals. Energy Convers Manag 51:1412–1421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cundiff JS, Dias N, Sherali HD (1997) A linear programming approach for designing a herbaceous biomass delivery system. Bioresour Technol 59(1):47–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/ECGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Faaij A (2008) Developments in international bio-energy markets and trade. Biomass Bioenergy 32(8):657–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Faaij APC, Domac J (2006) Emerging international bio-energy markets and opportunities for socio-economic development. Energy Sustain Dev X(1):7–19Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fink A (2005) Conducting research literature reviews: from the internet to paper, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand Oaks. Chap 1Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    GBEP—Global Bioenergy Partnership (2007) A review of the current state of bioenergy development in G8 + 5 countries, GBEP Secretariat, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome 2007; Report Final Last accessed 8 May 2011
  16. 16.
    Gheres MI, Ros V, Chira T, Fechete LV, Molnar A, Ranta O (2006) ‘Technical and economical analysis of bioenergy production’ Buletin USAMV-CN, 62/2006 (68–73) ISSN 1454-2382. Last accessed 19 July 2011
  17. 17.
    Goldemberg J, Coelho ST, Lucon O (2004) How adequate policies can push renewables. Energy Policy 32:1141–1146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hall DO, Scrase JI (1998) Will biomass be the environmentally friendly fuel of the future? Biomass Bioenergy 15(4/5):357–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hamelinck C, Faaij A (2006) Outlook for advanced biofuels. Energy Policy 34:3268–3283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hamelinck CN, Suurs RAA, Faaiji APC (2005) International bioenergy transport costs and energy balance. Biomass Bioenergy 29:114–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Hanna MA, Isom L, Campbell J (2005) Biodiesel: current perspectives and future. J Sci Ind Res 64:854–857Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Heinimo J, Pakarinen V, Ojanen V, Kässi T et al. (2007) International bioenergy trade—scenario study on international biomass market in 2020. Lappeenrannan University of Technology Department of Industrial Engineering and ManagementGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    IEA/OECD International Energy Agency (2007) Good practice guidelines, bioenergy project development & biomass supply. Last accessed 3 Mar 2009
  24. 24.
    IEA, International Energy Agency (2006) Bio-energy task 40 opportunities and barriers for sustainable international bio-energy trade and strategies to overcome them. Accessed at 18 Sept 2008
  25. 25.
    Junginger M et al (2008) Developments in international bioenergy trade. Biomass Bioenergy 32(8):717–729CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Junginger M et al. (2006) IEA Bioenergy Task 40—Sustainable International Bioenergy Trade: Securing Supply and Demand Opportunities and barriers for sustainable international bioenergy trade and strategies to overcome them—Technology report. Last accessed 3 Mar 2011
  27. 27.
    Kamm B, Kamm M (2007) International biorefinery systems. Pure Appl Chem 79(11):1983–1997. doi: 10.1351/pac200779111983CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kema Consulting (2005) Bioenergy logistics cost structure and development potential. Report to Enova. Energidata, Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) and KEMA Last accessed 2 Mar 2010
  29. 29.
    Koh LP, Ghazou J (2008) Biofuels, biodiversity, and people: understanding the conflicts and finding opportunities. Biol Conserv 141:2450–2460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Koo LY, Adhitya A, Srinivasan R, Karimi IA (2008) Decision support for integrated refining supply chains part 2. Design and operation. Comput Chem Eng 32:2787–2800CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Krausmann F, Erb KH, Gingrich S, Lauk C, Haberl H (2008) Global patterns of socioeconomic biomass flows in the year 2000: a comprehensive assessment of supply, consumption and constraints. Ecol Econ 65:471–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Lewandowski I, Faaij APC (2006) Steps towards the development of a certification system for sustainable bio-energy trade. Biomass Bioenergy 30:83–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lunnan A (1997) Agriculture-based biomass energy supply—a survey of economic issues. Energy Policy 25(6):573–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Mayring P (2000, June) Qualitative content analysis. ForumQualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal] 1(2). Available at: Last accessed 1 June 2011
  35. 35.
    McCormick-Brennan K, Bomb C, Deurwaarder E, Käberger T (2007) Biofuels for transport in Europe: lessons from Germany and the UK. Energy Policy 35(4):256–2267Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (1993)Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Naim MM, Potter AT, Mason RJ, Bateman N (2006) The role of transport flexibility in logistics provision. Int J Logistics Manag 17(3):297–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Nonhebel S (2005) Renewable energy and food supply: will there be enough land? Renew Sustain Energy Rev 9:191–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Pätz C, Seiffert M (2009) Optimised biomass logistics for conversion plants that produce heat, electricity and biofuels. In: Proceedings of the Chilean-German Biociclo workshop (Karlsruhe, 26.03.2009)—challenges for sustainable biomass utilisation, pp 45–55Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Pimentel D (2003) Ethanol fuels: energy balance, economics, and environmental impacts are negative. Nat Resour Res 12(2):127–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Ravula PP, Grisso RD, Cundiff JS (2008) Comparison between two policy strategies for scheduling trucks in a biomass logistic system. Bioresour Technol 99:5710–5721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Rentizelas AA, Tolis AJ, Tatsiopoulos IP et al (2009) Logistics issues of biomass: the storage problem and the multi-biomass supply chain. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 13:887–894CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Robertson GP et al. (2008) Sustainable biofuels redux. Science 322:49–50. Downloaded from on 22 Apr 2009Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Smeets E, Junginger M, Faaij A, Walter A, Dolzan P, Turkenburg W (2008) The sustainability of Brazilian ethanol—an assessment of the possibilities of certified production. Biomass Bio-energy 32:781–813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Seuring S, Müller M (2008) From a literature review to a conceptual framework for sustainable supply chain management. J Clean Prod 16:1699–1710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Seuring S (2004) Integrated chain management and supply chain management comparative analysis and illustrative cases. J Cleaner Prod 12:1059–1071CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Szklo A, Schaeffer R (2006) Alternative energy sources or integrated alternative energy systems? Oil as a modern lance of Peleus for the energy transition. Energy 31:2513–2522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Tyner W (2009) The integration of energy and agricultural markets. In: Presented at the 27th International Association of Agricultural Economists conference Beijing, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    UNEP, United Nations Environment Programme (2008) Convention on biological diversity. In: Conference of the parties to the convention on biological diversity; May 2008. UNEP/CBD/COP/9/26 Accessed at 2 Oct 2009
  50. 50.
    UNICAMP/IEA Bio-energy (2007) A report prepared by IEA Bioenergy Task 40 Sustainable Bio-energy Trade; securing Supply and Demand. Deliverable 8 lead by Brazil, Market Evaluation: Fuel EthanolGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    van Dam J, Junginger M, Faaij A, Jürgens I, Best G, Fritsche U (2008) Overview of recent developments in sustainable biomass certification. Biomass Bio-energy 32:749–780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    van der Laaka WWM, Raven RPJM, Verbong GPJ (2007) Strategic niche management for biofuels: analysing past experiments for developing new biofuels policies. Energy Policy 35:3213–3225 in Charles et al. 2007Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Volk TA, Verwijst T, Tharakan PJ, Abrahamson LP, White EH (2004) Growing fuel: a sustainability assessment of willow biomass crops. Front Ecol Environ 2(8):411–418. doi: 10.1890/1540-9295(2004)002[0411:GFASAO]2.0.CO;2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Walter A, Rosillo-Calle F, Dolzan P, Piacente E, da Cunha KB (2008) Perspectives on fuel ethanol consumption and trade. Biomass Bioenergy 32:730–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Wilton P (2005) The energy revolution. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Energy Special Edition, Newsline 34 Autumn 205Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Zwart RWR, Boerrigter H, van der Drift A (2006) ‘The impact of biomass pretreatment on the feasibility of overseas biomass conversion to Fischer-Tropsch products. Energy Fuels 20(5):2192–2197CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria de Lourdes Bravo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mohamed M. Naim
    • 2
  • Andrew Potter
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro de Administração e Políticas Públicas, Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e PolíticasUniversidade Técnica de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Logistics Systems Dynamics GroupCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations