Abstract Global energy demand is primarily dependent on the fossil fuel resources, and the energy consumption is growing significantly that will cause increased concentration of greenhouse gases ( GHGs ) in the atmosphere and depletion of known non‐renewable energy resources that will cause threat to future energy security. The fossil resources are regarded as unsustainable in terms of economy, ecology, and environmental perspective. The increased utilization of biomass can play a significant role in replacing conventional fossil‐based fuels and reducing emissions due to strict regulations for reducing GHG emissions. Biomass‐based fuels can contribute as additional energy resource in the global energy mix. This article has discussed first‐generation biofuel, concept of biorefineries, first‐generation‐feedstock‐derived biofuels, global first‐generation‐biofuel‐producing countries/regions and major sustainability challenges. The most common first‐generation biofuels include bioethanol, biodiesel, and biogas derived mainly from corn, sugarcane, soybean, vegetable oil, palm oil, wastes, and so on. From the sustainability perspective, first‐generation biofuels face numerous sustainability challenges including food and fuel competition, change in land use, potential increased GHG emissions due to fossil fuel utilization in the upstream processes. First‐generation biofuels appear unsustainable because of the potential stress that their production places on food commodities. The economic aspects of first‐generation biofuel largely depend on the type of feedstock and region where the feedstock has been cultivated and produced. Food prices will be affected because of increased production of energy crops that potentially compete with food crops for land use. In addition, the substantial production of biomass and conversion of biomass feedstock to biofuel may create new jobs and increase revenue from the agricultural sector.

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