Biofuels come from biomass and are used as fuel for vehicles and to generate electricity/heat. Biofuel is a collective word for many different energy sources from organic matter. Such as various plants, like trees and soya, but also waste products from agriculture, slaughter and wine production. Biofuels can be solid, like wood, liquid, like ethanol, or gaseous, like biogas.
Pros and Cons of biofuels
Biofuels are environmentally friendly in contrast to fossil fuels. They count as renewable- and carbon-neutral sources. However, a large part of biofuels come from crop production. The production requires large areas of land, which puts pressure on land use. More so, it can contribute to deforestation and higher food prices. Critiques highlight that the land is needed to grow food, not biofuels.
Furthermore, biofuels are only partially carbon neutral. For example, ethanol production releases greenhouse gases by using tractors, fertilizers and processing plants. Although, the advocates for biofuels state that the energy sources have the potential to be more sustainable in the future. Partly, by reducing the need for fertilizers and cropland.
Using biofuel is a popular way to lower the use of fossil fuels. Therefore, it is part of sustainability agendas across the world. More so, government policies are the main driver of the current expansion of biofuel. And it is believed that the market will grow by about 28 % between 2021-2026. In 2021, the United States was the largest producer of biofuel. The nation stands for about 40 % of the world’s production. Following this is Brazil, covering 21.5 % of production.
Biofuels for cars are known as bioethanol, biodiesel and biogas. They are similar to petrol and diesel. In Europe, biodiesel is commonly produced by growing rapeseed. 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 significant greenhouse emissions. Some critics even claim that the emissions from biodiesel production are greater than those from fossil fuels.
Aeroplanes will most likely fly on more biofuel in the future. Today, there are examples of planes that have flown partially or entirely on the source. Some companies use small percentages of biofuel mixed with other fuels for their commercial flights. However, biofuel usage cannot remove the “high-altitude effect”, which means that about half of the climate impact of a flight remains even if biofuels power the aeroplane.