Biofuels are fuels produced from biomass, i.e. organic matter that comes from a biological process, which is usable as an energy source.
According to the raw material and technology used in its production, biofuels can be classified into first, second and third generation. First generation biofuels use food grade raw materials and process technologies such as fermentation and transesterification; it is mainly these that have reached a commercial production stage. Second generation biofuels are derived from raw materials that have no food use, through the aforementioned processes and through thermochemical processes. Finally, third-generation biofuels use similar production methods in specifically designed or adapted bioenergy crops; these are still at an early stage of development and are a long way from being produced on a commercial scale.
Some noteworthy aspects of biofuels are:
- Their raw material is 100% renewable.
- They reduce total emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
- They can be used in a certain mixture percentage with fossil fuels without requiring modifications to vehicle engines.
Colombia entered the biofuel sector during the previous decade, defining the regulatory framework for the production and commercialization of ethanol and biodiesel within in the country, in 2001 and 2004 respectively, and starting mixtures thereof with fossil fuels in 2005 and 2008, respectively. The use of biofuels within the country is a consequence of the aim to diversify the energy mix, with criteria such as: Employment generation, agro-industrial development, environmental sustainability and improvement of fuel quality.
Ecopetrol took its first steps within the sector in 2007, and now, biofuels are an integral part of the strategic framework as one of its guiding principles.