Biofuels come from biomass and are used as fuel for vehicles and to generate electricity/heat. Biofuel is a collective word for many different fuels that come from organic matter. For example different plants (trees, soya) and waste from slaughter, agriculture and wine production. Biofuels can be 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. They are presented as both renewable- and carbon-neutral sources. However, a large part of the produced biofuels come from crop production. This kind of production requires large areas of land, putting pressure on land use. More so, the production is connected to deforestation and a rise in food prices. Among things, critiques highlight that the land is needed to grow food, not biofuels. Furthermore, biofuels are not carbon neutral. The production of for example ethanol releases great amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, through the use of tractors, fertilizers and processing plants.
Although, the advocates for biofuels state that the energy sources can get more sustainable in the future. Partly, by reducing the need for fertilizers and cropland.
Using biofuel is a popular way to decrease 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 about 28 % over the years 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 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.
Aeroplanes are predicted to fly on more and more biofuel in the future. Today, there are examples of planes that have flown partially or fully on the fuel. Some companies use small percentages of biofuel mixed with other fuels for their commercial flights. However, the usage of biofuel cannot remove the “high-altitude effect”, which means that about half of the climate impact of a flight remains even if the aeroplane is powered by biofuels only.