Biofuels are fuels that have been derived from plants and crops. Bioethanol, also known as ethanol or biodiesel, is the one that is most frequently extracted and used among these.
It can be used as an alternate fuel for your car and is blended with gasoline.
As we look at the pros and cons of biofuels let’s be clear that plant-based fuels have lower carbon emissions, are renewable, and can be grown everywhere compared to fossil fuels.
In addition to helping a suffering economy by creating jobs, biofuels also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by generating less pollution.
We should increase our development of alternative fuels, taking advantage of renewable resources, like using corn and sugar to produce ethanol or soybeans to produce biodiesel.
~ Bobby Jindal
Most people are moving to biofuels to save money and lessen their dependence on oil as crude oil prices rise daily.
Wheat, corn, soybeans, and sugarcane are used to make biofuels, which are sustainable since they can be produced repeatedly as needed.
Before we look at the advantages and disadvantages of biofuels, let’s examine what biofuels mean briefly.
What is Biofuel?
Simply explained, the term “biofuel” refers to all fuel sources made from organic material. Biofuels are not all created equal, though.
In truth, there is a major difference between primary and secondary biofuels, which not only distinguishes them based on their methods of production but also affects how they are often used.
Any fuel that is made from biomass, plant, algae, or animal waste, is referred to as biofuel.
Contrary to fossil fuels like petroleum, coal, and natural gas, biofuel is seen as a source of renewable energy due to the ease with which such feedstock material may be supplied.
In light of rising petroleum prices and growing concern about the role fossil fuels play in global warming, biofuel is frequently promoted as a convenient and environmentally friendly substitute for petroleum and other fossil fuels.
Due to the possible displacement of large tracts of arable land from food production as well as the financial and environmental expenses connected with the refining process, many critics are concerned about the extent of the spread of various biofuels.
Now, let’s consider what makes biofuel a good option.
Advantages of Biofuels
The following are the advantages of biofuels.
- Efficient Fuel
- The durability of Vehicles’ Engine
- Easy to Source
- Cut Back on Greenhouse Gases
- Economic Security
- Reduce Reliance on Imported Oil
- Pollution Levels are Lower
- Green Energy
- Create More Jobs
1. Efficient Fuel
In comparison to fossil diesel, biofuel is derived from renewable resources and is substantially less combustible.
Its lubricating qualities are noticeably better. Compared to regular diesel, it emits less damaging carbon.
Numerous materials can be used in the production of biofuels. The cost-benefit ratio for employing them is substantially higher overall.
Currently, the market price of biofuels is equal to the price of gasoline. However, using them has a substantially greater cost-benefit ratio overall.
They emit fewer emissions when burned since they are cleaner fuels. Future price reductions of biofuels are conceivable given the rising demand for them.
In the RFA (Renewable Fuels Association) February 2019 Ethanol Industry Outlook study, it is stated that “Ethanol continues to be the world’s highest-octane, least expensive motor fuel.”
In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided $73 million for 35 programs involving bioenergy research and development in 2019.
It attempts to “allow high-value products from biomass or waste resources” and reduce the cost of creating biopower with objectives including lowering drop-in biofuel costs.
Thus, using biofuels won’t put as much of a financial strain on consumers.
3. Durability of Vehicles’ Engine
Modern engine designs may be adapted to use biofuels, and they work well under most circumstances. It has better lubricating qualities and a higher cetane rating.
The engine is more durable when biodiesel is utilized as a combustible fuel. Additionally, no engine conversion is required.
As a result, the engine runs for longer periods, needs less maintenance, and reduces the overall cost of a pollution test.
Biofuel-compatible engines emit fewer pollutants than conventional diesel engines.
4. Easy to Source
Crude oil, which is a finite resource, is used to refine gasoline. Although the current gas reserves will last for many years, they will eventually run out.
Biofuels are produced from a variety of materials, including manure, agricultural waste, other wastes, algae, and plants raised particularly for the purpose.
The majority of fossil fuels will eventually run out and burn up.
The usage of biofuels is efficient since the majority of the sources, such as manure, corn, switchgrass, soybeans, and waste from plants and crops, are renewable and unlikely to run out very soon.
These crops can also be sown repeatedly.
6. Cut Back on Greenhouse Gases
According to studies, biofuels can cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 65%.
When fossil fuels are burned, they release a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas.
The globe warms as a result of these greenhouse gases’ ability to capture sunlight.
In addition, burning coal and oil raises temperatures and contributes to global warming.
Biofuels are being used by people all around the world to lessen the impact of greenhouse gases.
7. Economic Security
Not every nation has large crude oil reserves. For them, having to import oil puts a huge dent in the economy.
If more people start shifting towards biofuels, a country can reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
Biofuel production increases the demand for suitable biofuel crops, providing a boost to the agriculture industry.
Fueling homes, businesses, and vehicles with biofuels are less expensive than fossil fuels.
More jobs will be created with a growing biofuel industry, which will keep our economy secure.
8. Reduce Reliance on Imported Oil
While the country’s reliance on fossil fuels has decreased thanks to locally grown crops, many experts think it will take a while to find a sustainable solution to our energy problems.
We need additional alternative energy options as crude oil prices reach record highs to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels.
9. Pollution Levels are Lower
The fact that biofuels contribute to less pollution is one of its many noteworthy benefits.
Millions of people can breathe easier thanks to the use of biodiesel in cars.
Utilizing biodiesel considerably reduces emissions of hydrocarbons and other pollutants, including small particles.
Additionally, biodiesel is free of sulfur and other strong hydrocarbons that harm the atmosphere. Better health is ensured by cleaner air!
10. Green Energy
We can manufacture green energy for ourselves from environmentally sound sources.
The fact that we obtain biofuels from non-toxic materials is another important benefit.
It is environmentally friendly, easily scalable, and versatile.
Additionally, when used in cars and other vehicles, ethanol and biodiesel burn cleanly, lowering their carbon footprint.
11. Create More Jobs
More occupations are made possible by biofuels, raising overall living standards for most people.
People can find employment in a variety of fields within the business, including supply, production, transportation, and cultivation.
This industry uses a lot of labor and needs both skilled and unskilled workers.
The industry’s primary benefit is that it generates direct employment, but it also has a multiplier effect.
By 2023, the industry would reportedly result in the creation of 807,000 new employees.
Disadvantages of Biofuels
All energy sources currently have their drawbacks and biofuel is no exception. Though we still strive for green and sustainable energy, biofuels like other energy sources have their faults and they are as follows.
- Exorbitant Production Costs
- Not Rotating the Crop
- Utilization of Fertilizers
- A Lack of Food
- Industrial Pollution
- Water Usage
- Future Price Growth
- Land Use Modifications
- Increases Pollution in contrast to wind and solar
- Weather issue
1. Exorbitant Production Costs
Despite all the advantages connected with them, biofuels are currently relatively expensive to produce.
Although there is currently a relatively low level of interest and financial investment in biofuel production, it can nonetheless meet demand.
If the demand rises, raising the supply will be a lengthy and expensive procedure.
Still, this drawback prevents the use of biofuels from growing in popularity.
2. Not Rotating the Crop
Crop rotation is a crucial strategy for replenishing the soil’s nutrients.
It entails altering the crop grown on a specific plot of land. However, only a few crops are cultivated on the land when farmers cultivate it for biomass.
As a result, the soil becomes depleted, which increases the need for fertilizer and insecticides.
3. Utilization of Fertilizers
Crops are used to make biofuels, and for better growth, these crops require fertilizers.
The drawback of using fertilizers is that they may lead to water pollution and have negative impacts on the ecosystem.
Fertilizers include phosphate and nitrogen. They might be carried by water from the soil to ponds, rivers, or lakes nearby.
4. A Lack of Food
Plants and crops with high sugar content are used to produce biofuels. However, the majority of these plants are also grown for food.
Even though plant waste can be used as raw material, there will still be a need for such food crops.
It would occupy farmland that would otherwise be used by other crops, which could lead to some issues.
While there may not be a severe food crisis, using existing land for biofuels will undoubtedly hinder agricultural growth at the moment.
People are very concerned that the rising usage of biofuels may simply lead to an increase in food prices.
Algae is sometimes preferred since it can grow in harsh environments and has less of an impact on how much land is used.
However, the utilization of water is an issue with algae.
5. Industrial Pollution
When burned, biofuels have a lower carbon impact than conventional fuels.
Nevertheless, the method by which they are made up for that. A lot of water and oil are required for production.
It is commonly recognized that big-scale biofuel production facilities produce enormous volumes of emissions and small-scale water pollution.
Unless more effective production methods are implemented, the total amount of carbon emissions do not significantly decrease. Additionally, it results in a rise in NOx.
6. Water Usage
Irrigating biofuel crops requires a lot of water, which, if not used carefully, might put a burden on local and regional water supplies.
Massive amounts of water are utilized in the production of corn-based ethanol to satisfy local demand for biofuels, which may impose an unsustainable strain on the area’s water resources.
7. Future Price Growth
The technology used to produce biofuels today is not as effective as it could be.
Researchers are working to create more efficient ways to extract this fuel.
The expense of research and upcoming installation, however, will cause a huge increase in the price of biofuels.
Currently, the costs are affordable and on a level with those of fuel.
The usage of biofuels may have the same negative economic effects as the current rise in petrol prices due to continually rising costs.
8. Land Use Modifications
The area must be removed from natural flora to grow biofuel feedstock, which causes ecological harm in three different ways.
First, the destruction of local habitats, animal dens, and micro-ecosystems results in harm to the region’s natural resources and lowers their general health.
Because CO2 is retained and never released during combustion as it is with fuel stock, the native forest almost always performs better at removing CO2 from the environment than a biofuel feedstock.
Second, the harm is done in the form of accumulated carbon debt.
Before any biofuel is created, the region already has a net positive GHG output because it produces greenhouse gases to clear the land, prepare it for farming, and plant the crop.
According to estimates, clearing native forests can result in a carbon debt that will take 500 years to pay off.
Finally, when land is converted for agricultural purposes, fertilizers are almost usually employed to maximize yields per square foot. Runoff and other agricultural contamination are the issues.
More cropland being developed is therefore likely to harm rivers and energy consumed in treatment facilities, and other mitigation measures result in even greater carbon debt.
9. Increases Pollution in contrast to wind and solar
Clean energy sources include wind and solar energy. They offer long-term energy solutions after the first installation.
Nitrous oxide emissions from burning materials to make biofuels are significant and may contribute to global warming.
Water pollution is also caused by the use of pesticides in agricultural practices.
10. Weather issue
In colder climates, biofuel is less effective. Compared to fossil fuel, it is more likely to draw moisture, which is problematic in cold weather.
Additionally, it causes the engine’s filters to become clogged by an increase in microbial growth.
One important aspect of lowering the use of biofuels is a lack of knowledge and general information about them.
Because they are still in their infancy, biofuels need a lot of research and development to become more widely used.
Most users who are not aware of this fuel source will continue to obtain their energy needs from other sources up to that time.
To support the expanding population, the world market for biofuels and renewable energy sources keeps expanding.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, unconventional fossil fuel production will undoubtedly rise much faster than global oil production, which is predicted to rise by 30% by 2030.
It is anticipated that global biofuel production will more than double.
22 Advantages and Disadvantages of Biofuels – FAQs
What is the major advantage and major disadvantage of biofuels?
The major advantage of biofuels apart from the fact that they help reduce pollution is that they are not only renewable but they help slow climate change. While the major disadvantage is that they encourage single crop harvesting and resources which increases food mismanagement.
Which is better, Biofuel or Fossil fuel?
Yes, biofuels are indeed superior to fossil fuels from an environmental standpoint. All biofuels (only hydrocarbons are taken into account here) can be categorized as producing greenhouse gases and causing global warming because they all produce CO2 when burned.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.