Modelling the impacts of macro-economic variables on the South African biofuels industry

15 Dec 2008

The production of biofuels from agricultural commodities has received much attention in recent years. Apart from a few private initiatives, biofuels have not seen a large scale, commercial production in South Africa to date. This article sketches a basic picture of the economic feasibility of biofuel production in South Africa, without any form of government support, at 2006 prices. It then takes the analysis a step further and with the aid of a set of scenarios, different potential outcomes, due to a range of possible policy implementation measures, are discussed and the results documented. The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy’s (BFAP) sector model is used to simulate the impact of various options on the potential biofuels industry and other related industries during the course of the 2007 to 2015 period. This study shows that a lack of government support for the local biofuels industry could seriously affect its economic viability, especially in the early stages of the industry’s development. Additional issues, such as the impact on food and feed prices, also need to be taken into consideration.