In recent years there has been quite a discussion whether the biofuels are just as eco-friendly as they were promised to be. This made me dig deeper into this issue of what are the advantages and disadvantages of using the biofuels as a replacement for regular fossil fuels. Biofuels are considered to be petroleum subsidies made from plants such as corn, sugar cane, soybean or palm oil.
The main advantage of this type of fuel is the ability to reduce greenhouse gases up to 60% when burned. They also absorb carbon dioxide when they grow, which balances the impact of burning them in cars. On the other hand when we examine the whole process from production of the crops to the final product – fuel, it can cause more damage than the conventional fossil fuels. Lets start from the beginning. For every new field of crops that will be later used for biofuel production, some part of the land that could be used for other crops intended as food for people, needs to be cleared. This could ultimately lead to rise of food prices or even shortage of food. Sowing the same type of crop year after year leaves the soil deprived of necessary nutrients and the land becomes barren. When the crop is seeded it needs extensive irrigation that can lead to shortage of water in given area where the crops are being grown. Many farmers use fertilizers that cause pollution of local water sources and surrounding environment. In addition the crops are being harvested by machines, which also run on fine amount of fuel. Although, it seems there are only negatives to using biofuels, it is not entirely true. Biofuels are renewable. While the traditional fossil fuels will run out some day, sowing of the plans is limited only by the fertile soil available. Another big advantage of this type of fuel is that it can help reduce dependence on oil, especially for the countries that have no oil resources.
Right now biofuels are one of the few possible alternative sources of fuel in terms of price and production. According to many experts biofuels have future in using waste material, such as pieces of wood or parts of plants that are not designated to be a food. Although biofuels are probably not the fuel of the future, in small doses in can be considered as supplement to current traditional fuels until better technology comes along.