Pros and Cons of Biofuels

Pros and Cons of Biofuels

People are starting to be more aware about alternative sources of energy and their importance. One of the best alternatives of conventional fuel is biofuel. Biofuel is a liquid which is extracted from waste of living creatures or from biomass. 

The most common forms of biofuel used today are ethanol (Bio-alcohol) and biodiesel. Research and development over recent years has increased support, raised production and also made biofuel more accessible to the public. 

The increasing fuel demand has pushed the supply of biofuel, but can we fulfill the demand? How feasible is it to use biofuels instead of conventional fuels? Find out ahead in this article.

Being a consumer, you have the right to observe and choose the right fuel for your needs. For that reason, you need an accurate list of advantages and disadvantages of biofuels before making a decision to switch.

First, we have made a table of pros and cons of biofuels, then we will discuss them in-detail ahead.

Pros of BiofuelsCons of Biofuels
Environment-friendlyNeeds Water and Oil for Manufacturing process
Less Expensive for Consumers
High Initial Investment in Manufacturing plants
Renewable and SustainableClearing of Forests
Produced Locally – No Transport Carbon FootprintMonoculture Farming – Reduced Biodiversity
Raised Food Price
Limited Accessibility

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You can keep it for your next camping trip, catering needs or especially emergencies. It has an unlimited shelf-life. Click on the picture to know more about it!

Get this non-toxic, all-natural and organic biofuel bottle for the burner as well.

Advantages of Biofuels

1. Environment-friendly

Biofuels being environment-friendly is one advantage that beats all pros and cons. The point of us looking for energy alternatives is to ensure sustainability and conservation of natural resources. Biofuels, being clean and green, fulfill that.

Burning fossil fuels or petroleum products releases greenhouse gases. The greenhouse gasses are air pollutants responsible for worsening climate change. 

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Biofuels are more environment-friendly than conventional fuels, as said by many environmentalists.

Biofuels have a lower carbon footprint and release fewer toxins into the air. According to research, Biofuels would be able to reduce greenhouse gasses by 65 percent. Biofuels do produce carbon dioxide, but it can be absorbed out from the atmosphere by source plants which are used in the production of biofuel. 

So if we talk about safer alternatives that preserve atmospheric quality and lower air pollution, biofuel may just be the best solution.

2. Biofuels are Cheaper

As the worldwide demand of petroleum increases; the price of fossil fuel products would  increase if there is limited supply. 

Since biofuels are produced and sourced locally, they are quite an affordable alternative to fossil fuels. If the trade of biofuel increases over time and bulk production takes place, biofuel prices would decrease significantly.

In order to use biofuel mixtures in cars,  no significant changes are required because they are compatible with current engine designs and can even help to increase lifespan of these engines. 

If people start using biofuels, it would actually reduce their expenses as engines running on biofuels require less maintenance and fewer repairs.

In 2009, a bus company in Dallas changed their engines to run on biofuel sourced from local restaurants and expected to save around $400,000 annually. As of now, they’ve opted for electric buses.

3. Renewable (+comparison with gasoline)

Gasoline is a by-product of refining crude oil. Crude oil is a non-renewable source which may dry up in the future if current consumption rate continues. Fossil fuels take millions of years to be formed. 

However, biofuels can be obtained from many natural resources which can be replenished. For example, there are ‘energy crops’ grown specifically to extract fuel. Biofuels can be extracted from the waste of those crops as well. 

4. They can be produced locally

Countries with high fuel demand have to import fuel as they don’t have sufficient reserves of crude oil. Believe it or not, importing large quantities of fuel raises the import bill and really hurts the country’s financial reserves. 

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Biofuels can be produced locally from locally-sourced energy crops. This makes biofuels an attractive option because countries would not have to depend upon foreign energy resources. This would promote the local economy and would also make the country more independent. 

There is a huge carbon footprint of oil tankers transporting oil over the oceans. Additionally, there is also a high risk of oil spills when transporting crude oil on ships.

5. Biofuels can stimulate local economy

As we have discussed how biofuel can be produced locally. Countries adopting biofuel then they can invest into biofuel manufacturing plants, promote incentives for farmers to develop their farms for ‘energy crop’ production. 

Such manufacturing plants and incentives would also generate employment opportunities in rural areas, especially in the agriculture industry. 

Disadvantages of Biofuels

1. Dependence on Water and Oil Resources

Biofuel does produce lower carbon emissions but their production does depend on water and oil. Many of the studies show that the machinery used to cultivate crops emits large quantities of carbon emissions. 

A lot of water is used while growing these energy crops which can be a problem for drought-affected regions. The water resources may not be adequate for the farm and the people living around it, therefore it needs to be managed properly.

2. High Initial investment

A lot of sophisticated equipment is needed to refine biofuels and have efficient energy outputs. Setting up further biofuel manufacturing plants may fulfill the country’s supply but will require an enormous investment. 

3. Land conversion from Forests to Farmlands

In order to satisfy demands for biofuel, a good chunk of land is used to plant energy crops. It seems to be a great idea to be able to increase supply of biofuels, but it has a cost. This would require so much land that forests and free spaces may be turned into agricultural lands. Clearing forests would greatly reduce biodiversity and habitats of plants and animals.

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Biofuel Pros and Cons-Miscanthus

4. Monoculture

Monoculture farming is basically growing a single crop again and again on the same field. As the incentives for biofuels increase, the demand for ‘energy crops’ will also increase. When farmers are attracted to the returns on ‘energy crops’, they will be compelled to grow these crops and earn more to feed their families. 

However, some of the major downsides of monoculture farming are reduced biodiversity and damaged soil health due to excess use of nutrients.

5. Raise food prices and disturbed supply

Biofuels would require high supply of energy crops. When energy crops are being supplied to these biofuel manufacturing plants, there will be less available for the general public.

When there is less food available for the general public; prices would be higher and there would also be great pressure on farmers and agricultural lands to produce more. 

In order to increase supply, farmers would be pushed to practice invasive farming practices which will go on to damage the soil and the environment when excess farming chemicals are used.

6. Availability and Accessibility Issues

The technology that produces the most refined biofuels efficiently is still being developed and there are limited filling stations which sell highly refined biofuel. The ones which do sell biofuel are not accessible to enough people. Due to this reason, the prices of biofuel are high and the sale is low.

Conclusion

Considering these advantages and disadvantages of biofuels, we can say that they are a cheaper, more environment-friendly and a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

However, disadvantages show us that there are some limits to producing biofuels because you can’t obviously convert all the agricultural land to produce ‘energy crops’ for the sole purpose of producing biofuels. Countries have to feed stomachs too!

As the technology continues to develop; be assured that ‘clean and green’ fuel alternatives are going to reach you sooner than you think.



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