The combination of dwindling oil reserves and growing concerns over carbon dioxide emissions and associated climate change is driving the urgent development of clean, sustainable energy supplies. Biodiesel is non-toxic and biodegradable, with the potential for closed CO2 cycles and thus vastly reduced carbon footprints compared with petroleum fuels. However, current manufacturing routes employing soluble catalysts are very energy inefficient and produce copious amounts of contaminated water waste. This review highlights the significant progress made in recent years towards developing solid acid and base catalysts for biodiesel synthesis. Issues to be addressed in the future are also discussed including the introduction of non-edible oil feedstocks, as well as technical advances in catalyst and reactor design to ensure that biodiesel remains a key player in the renewable energy sector for the 21st century.