Nav: Home

WSU study finds people willing to pay more for new biofuels

December 08, 2016

PULLMAN, Wash. - When it comes to second generation biofuels, Washington State University research shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium of approximately 11 percent over conventional fuel.

"We were surprised the premium was that significant," said Jill McCluskey, WSU professor in the School of Economic Sciences. "We wanted to study people in different regions of the country, to make sure we weren't just getting a local result, and people in all three cities we studied said they would pay more for these fuels."

The paper, "Consumer Preferences for Second-Generation Bioethanol," was published in November in the journal Energy Economics. See http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140988316303048.

First generation biofuels use potential food sources, like corn, which can cause the price of food to rise. Second generation biofuels, on the other hand, are made from sustainable biological non-food sources. Recently, Alaska Airlines flew a plane from Seattle to Washington, D.C., fueled by second generation biofuel made from wood scraps.

McCluskey's study was part of a grant from the National Science Foundation headed by Shulin Chen, WSU professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. Chen, who researches new biofuels, asked McCluskey to find out whether people would buy second generation biofuels.

"This new biofuel doesn't exist commercially yet, so we have to do these studies to make sure there's a potential market for it," McCluskey said. "And this shows there clearly is a market."

McCluskey and her co-author, recent WSU Ph.D. graduate Tongzhe Li, conducted surveys in Portland, Ore., Minneapolis and Boston. In Portland, the average amount participants would pay for second generation biofuel over conventional fuel was 17 percent, while in Minneapolis and Boston the averages were 9 percent and 8 percent, respectively.

"People in the survey were concerned that the new fuel may put their car at risk, by not running the same as conventional fuel," she said. "But they also saw the added benefit to the environment."

The researchers asked participants if they would be willing to pay a certain amount for the product. If they said no, researchers offered a discount and asked if participants would pay that amount. However, if respondents said yes, researchers asked if they would be willing to pay a little more for the product.

Before they were surveyed, half of the participants were given information about second generation biofuels. Those participants were more willing to pay a greater premium, which suggests that marketing the benefits of the new biofuels would improve consumers' perceptions, McCluskey said.
-end-


Washington State University

Related Biofuels Articles:

Cellulosic biofuels can benefit the environment if managed correctly
Could cellulosic biofuels -- or liquid energy derived from grasses and wood -- become a green fuel of the future, providing an environmentally sustainable way of meeting energy needs?
Solving a sweet problem for renewable biofuels and chemicals
Reed Cartwright and Xuan Wang have teamed up to try to break through the innovation bottleneck for the renewable bioproduction of fuels and chemicals.
Making oil from algae -- towards more efficient biofuels
The mechanism behind oil synthesis within microalgae cells has been revealed by a Japanese research team.
WSU study finds people willing to pay more for new biofuels
When it comes to second generation biofuels, Washington State University research shows that consumers are willing to pay a premium of approximately 11 percent over conventional fuel.
'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center have found a way to nearly double the efficiency with which a commonly used industrial yeast strain converts plant sugars to biofuel.
Biofuels not as 'green' as many think
Statements about biofuels being carbon neutral should be taken with a grain of salt.
Sustainability criteria for transport biofuels need improvements
In its Renewable Energy Directive, the European Union has set a 10 percent goal for the use of renewable energy in transport by 2020.
Researchers' new advance in quest for second generation biofuels
Scientists at the University of York are part of an international research team that has made a significant step forward in understanding the processes naturally occurring enzymes use to degrade microbe-resistant biomass, a key aim in the development of biofuels.
Biofuels from algae: A budding technology yet to become viable
Despite high expectations and extensive research and investment in the last decade, technological options are still in developing stages and key resources for algal growth are still too onerous for economically viable production of algal biofuels, according to a JRC literature review.
One-stop shop for biofuels
Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute have developed a 'high-gravity' one-pot process for producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass that gives unprecedented yields while minimizing water use and waste disposal.

Related Biofuels Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".