Renewable Fuel Definition, Sources, Examples Explained

Renewable fuel is a medium of energy storage which is derived from materials that are available and recycled naturally in the ecosystem. This article discusses renewable fuel definition, comparison, sources and examples, as follows;


-Renewable Fuel Definition: 6 Ways to Define Renewable Fuels

-Biofuel and Renewable Fuel Comparison

-Renewable Fuel Sources

-Renewable Fuel Examples




Renewable Fuel Definition: 6 Ways to Define Renewable Fuels

A renewable fuel is any energy resource produced from renewable materials like biomass, in the form of algae, plant matter, and animal waste [1].

As the above definition implies, a major attribute of renewable fuels is their organic origin, and the fact that they are subject to natural recycling. Based on their sources, renewable fuels can also be referred to as biofuels.

The following renewable fuel definition throws light on some processes by which these fuels are derived from their original raw materials;

Renewable fuel is a solid, liquid or gaseous product, with significant energy density, which is derived from organic raw materials through any of various processes such as anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, torrefaction, and gasification [4].

The processes involved in the production of renewable fuel can collectively referred to as waste-to-energy processes. They can be used with any of various substrates including crop residue, sewage sludge, woody biomass, and animal manure; converting these materials into useful energy in the form of liquid or gaseous fuel.

Aside fuel production, such processes also yield other valuable products, such as biochar which is used for soil conservation in sustainable agriculture [2].

Some examples of renewable fuels are mentioned in the renewable fuel definition below;

A renewable fuel is any of various energy-rich materials derived from organic sources, including examples like biomethane, bioethanol and biodiesel; which can be used as energy sources for industrial and domestic purposes [3].

An alternative renewable fuel definition highlights some of the purposes for which these fuels are used, as shown below;

A renewable fuel is any solid, gaseous or liquid material containing renewable bioenergy, which can be used for electricity generation, transport, and domestic heating, among other purposes.

Below is another version of the renewable fuel definition, which lists some benefits of renewable fuels;

Renewable fuel is any energy-rich solid, liquid or gas which is derived from organic sources like plant biomass, and is useful for achieving sustainable development by supporting the energy transition, circular economy, and energy conservation efforts; while helping to reduce energy-related environmental degradation.

Lastly, renewable fuel definition is given within the context of renewable energy development;

A renewable fuel is a source of bioenergy, which is produced when organic matter is converted, and can be used as an alternative energy source, alongside solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric and wave energy.


Biofuel and Renewable Fuel Comparison

The difference between biofuel and renewable fuel is in the scope of their context, where biofuel covers a narrower scope of fuels from biological or organic sources, while renewable fuel covers all resources that can be recycled and reused effectively to produce energy.

This means that water can be considered a renewable fuel, since if can easily be recycled and is used to generate hydroelectricity. Under some conditions, nuclear fuels can also be considered renewable, when consumed using breeder reactors that regenerate the fuel repeatedly.

In some cases, liquid hydrogen may be classified as a renewable fuel too. This includes where it is derived from organic sources using renewable energy.

On the other hand, biofuels are only those derived from biomass.


Renewable Fuel Sources

Renewable fuel sources are; crop residue, municipal solid organic waste, livestock manure, and sewage sludge.

These sources are all organic and can either be used directly as fuel, or could serve as raw material for producing renewable fuel through biomass conversion.

Renewable Fuel Sources (Credit: Idaho National Laboratory 2013 .CC BY 2.0.)
Renewable Fuel Sources (Credit: Idaho National Laboratory 2013 .CC BY 2.0.)


Renewable Fuel Examples

Renewable fuel examples are; biodiesel, biomethane, bioethanol, and water.



Renewable fuel is any solid, liquid or gas that is derived from organic materials, and contains energy which can be used to produce heat and generate electricity, among other applications.

It is different from biofuel as it may include fuels from organic sources other than biomass, or fuels produced using renewable energy.


Sources of renewable fuel are;

1. Municipal solid organic waste

2. Crop residue

3. Livestock manure

4. Sewage sludge


Examples of renewable fuels are;

1. Biodiesel

2. Biomethane

3. Bioethanol

4. Water



1). Alam, F.; Date, A.; Rasjidin, R.; Mobin, S.; Moria, H.; Baqui, A. (2012). “Biofuel from Algae- Is It a Viable Alternative?” Procedia Engineering 49:221–227. Available at: (Accssed 31 October 2022).

2). Ayaz, M.; Feiziene, D.; Tilvikiene, V.; Akhtar, K.; Stulpinaitė, U.; Iqbal, R. (2021). “Biochar Role in the Sustainability of Agriculture and Environment.” Sustainability 13(3):21. Available at: (Accessed 31 October 2022).

3). Beschkov, V. (2017). “Biogas, Biodiesel and Bioethanol as Multifunctional Renewable Fuels and Raw Materials.” In E. Jacob-Lopes, & L. Q. Zepka (Eds.), Frontiers in Bioenergy and Biofuels. IntechOpen. Available at: (Accessed 31 October 2022).

4). Jha, S.; Nanda, S.; Acharya, B.; Dalai, A. K. (2022). “A Review of Thermochemical Conversion of Waste Biomass to Biofuels.” Energies 15(6352). Available at: (Accessed 31 October 2022).

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