Countries around the world are implementing renewable energy targets and biofuels will be a major part of reaching these goals. Considerations need to be made though regarding the advantages and disadvantages of biofuels. As great as it is to be able to transition from fossil fuels into a usable alternative fuel there are some drawbacks that keep it from being considered a perfect fuel. Biofuels must be processed and treated to be able to be used in modern vehicles and this is a source of many biofuel disadvantages.
Advantages of Biofuels
- Uses renewable biomass as fuel source, ultimately solar driven.
- Existing petroleum based fuel infrastructure can be converted easier than switching to electric (solar, wind, etc).
- Fuel production (crops) removes CO2 from atmosphere releasing oxygen and retaining carbon.
- Less expensive to produce than fossil fuels like gasoline.
- Can be blended with gasoline in a lot of cases (Ethanol, Butanol) and used in current vehicles.
- Future technology may allow carbon neutral fuel and eliminate food supply concerns through use of algae and microbial life.
The video below goes into a lot more detail about biofuel advantages.
Disadvantages of Biofuels
- May impact food supplies and prices if certain feedstock is used.
- Use of pesticides and fertilizers using petroleum products impacts net emissions and environmental concerns.
- If additional land is cleared to produce biofuel crops it reduces natural environment diversity.
- Monocrop farming techniques deplete soil over time resulting in a cycle where more oil based fertilizers and pesticides are needed.
- Still produces CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions due to combustion of fuel.
The video below goes into a lot more detail about biofuel disadvantages.
Although biofuels have problems, one day they will become a sustainable energy source. Engineers and scientists are working on ways to make this a reality using algae and genetically modified micro-organisms and crops. Future developments in these areas could eliminate many of biofuel’s disadvantages. It is a work in progress that still needs time to mature.Sponsors: