Biofuels come from biomass and are used as a fuel for vehicles, to generate electricity and/or to generate heat. The word biofuel is a collective name for many different fuels that are derived from organic matter. Examples include different plants (trees, soya) peat and waste from slaughter, agriculture, and wine production. Biofuels are solid, like wood, liquid, like ethanol, or gaseous, like biogas.
Pros and Cons of biofuels
Biofuels are considered environmentally friendly in contrast to fossil fuels. As they are seen as a carbon neutral and renewable source of energy. Although, this belief is not fully the case (see below). However, biofuel is a sustainable source when produced from community waste.
Much of the biofuels of today come from crop productions. Meaning that a crop is grown, such as soya, to be used as fuel. These kind of production sites require large areas of land to grow biomass. Therefore, they tend to be responsible for deforestation and biodiversity loss. Furthermore, critiques highlight the need of growing food for humans on the land areas that are being used to grow biofuel.
Biofuels in Sweden
In 2014, Sweden was the sixth most biofuel consuming country in Europe. In the country, biogas is common for public transports. Although, since the energy consumption in Sweden is so high, it is impossible to replace it all with fuels from organic matter.
Biofuels for cars are known as bioethanol, biodiesel and biogas. They are similar to their fossil fuel equivalents petrol and diesel. In Europe, biodiesel is produced from growing rapeseeds. Although globally it is more common to grow soya for this purpose. Despite what people might think, these kinds of productions are also responsible for large greenhouse emissions. Some critics even claim that the emissions from biodiesel production are greater than those from fossil fuels.
Airplanes are predicted to fly on more and more biofuels in the future. Today, there are examples of planes that have flown partially or fully on the fuels. Some companies use small percentages of biofuel mixed with other fuels for their commercial flights. However, the usage of biofuels cannot remove the so-called “high-altitude effect”, which means that about half of the climate impact of a flight remains even if the airplane is powered by biofuels only.