Biofuels are produced from biological materials. They reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while decreasing our oil dependency and diversifying our energy supply. Ethanol and biodiesel are the two most common biofuels. In 2010, global production of biofuels exceeded 100 billion liters.
New technologies are bringing about second and third generation biofuels derived from materials other than corn and sugar cane. Cellulosic ethanol is one example of this; it is manufactured from materials such as crop residues (corn stalks, rice straw, wheat straw, switchgrass, corn fiber, soy fiber, etc.), forest residues and municipal solid wastes.
The worldwide demand for biofuels is growing rapidly. Several governments have developed and implemented regulations to ensure that petrol and diesel contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel such as ethanol and biodiesel. Quebec's strategy encourages the development of renewable fuels through its objectives of reaching 5% ethanol content in gasoline by 2012 and of increasing sales of biodiesel. The strategy also targets use of forest and agricultural biomass as well as urban waste instead of corn. Although technologically more difficult, from an environmental and economic perspective, replacing corn in biofuel production is a better alternative for Quebec.