10 Biofuels Pros and Cons
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The United Nations (UN) warned that humans have 12 years to combat climate change. Doing so will mean moving away from fossil fuels with their high emission cost and toward renewable energy. One such source is biofuels. This term refers to power made from biomass. Some processes use waste products, while others use specially grown crops. What should you know about this alternative? Here are 10 pros and cons of biofuels.
Oil is not a renewable resource. Nor is coal. These materials take millions of years to form, and once the current supply runs out, it’s gone for good.
Alternatively, biofuel is infinitely renewable. There will always be garbage filling landfills, and plants regrow season after season.
While some plants are poisonous to human beings, they don’t harm the planet. It doesn’t matter if they decay and enter water supplies, making biofuel non-toxic.
Additionally, the end products, ethanol and biodiesel, burn more cleanly than current fuels. That means biofuels also reduce carbon emissions. Dropping pollution matters for more than combating rising temperatures. Ten million people die each year from air pollution-related causes.
3. Reduces Landfill Waste
There’s only so much land here on planet earth, and it’s at a premium. Landfills aren’t the only thing driving up real estate prices, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s only so much room.
Biofuels reduce landfill waste by converting goods that would otherwise be buried in the earth into usable energy. You could help create green power every time you take out the trash.
4. Low Emissions
Biofuels reduce typical vehicle emissions by 86%. Greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming. Experts warn that if the temperatures rise by as little as 2° Fahrenheit, mass droughts, heatwaves and human suffering could result.
Furthermore, the plants used to create biofuels help strip excess carbon dioxide out of the air. In return, they emit life-giving oxygen. Increasing green spaces is one way to clear the air.
5. Reduces Pollution
Plants act like sponges, scrubbing away tiny particulate matter and hydrocarbons. It’s also void of the sulfur emissions that hurt the atmosphere.
Biofuels even protect your engine from excess wear and tear. Typical petroleum fuels can leave clumpy deposits that clog your fuel lines and impact vehicle performance.
6. Boosts the Economy
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of biofuels is that they boost the economy. Construction crews need to erect new facilities operated by trained individuals, creating high-paying jobs that let people support their families.
Additionally, current pollution levels lead to numerous sick days each year. Reducing particulates and carbon in the air helps people breathe easier and get sick less often. Absenteeism costs the economy thousands of dollars each year.
7. Uses a Lot of Water
One disadvantage of biofuels is that they use much water on both the front and back ends of production. It takes considerable water to maintain the crops necessary to produce enough fuel to make it marketable.
Additionally, the production process uses considerable amounts of water. Some experts fear that certain arid regions might not withstand the strain on their scant resources.
8. Reduces Agricultural Land
Another disadvantage of biofuels is that they require agricultural land that people could otherwise use to feed hungry humans. Even in America, experts fear that as many as 42 million people suffer from hunger. The impact could be devastating in developing nations where food is even more scarce.
Sadly, inflation is another possible result of switching too many fields to biofuel production. As food gets more scarce, prices rise. Many people already struggle to pay their grocery bills.
Deforestation is another potential adverse effect of biofuels. Farmers could fell trees to clear fields for crop production.
Additionally, the minimal environmental impact of biofuels could encourage more wanton consumption. If people figure that their community will only reuse the trash they create to make fuel, they’ll put more of a strain on existing resources.
10. High Cost of Production
Finally, biofuels cost a considerable amount to manufacture. It takes a substantial amount of cash merely to transport the raw materials to the plant for production.
Furthermore, biofuels have a lower energy density than traditional fossil fuels. That means it takes many more of them to power cars and other devices the way people expect them to work.
Biofuels Pros and Cons
The race to stop climate change continues. The planet needs renewable energy resources to maintain the quality of human life while preventing widespread devastation and the loss of it.
Biofuels offer one alternative. But the pros and cons of biofuels are aplenty — so educate yourself.
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About the author
Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of Environment.co. A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.