Benefits and Chalenges of Biofuels


Biofuels offers significant benefits, which include:

• Biofuels are considered a sustainable resource because they can regrow in the course of a person's lifetime, and thus contribute to sustainable energy production.
• Biofuels can be carbon neutral. This means that although burning biofuel emits carbon dioxide into the environment, it is balanced by creating biomass for biofuel which reduces carbon dioxide in the environment.
• Biofuels are non-toxic and biodegradable. They burn much cleaner than their fossil fuel counterparts.
• Biodiesel can make use of unwanted and already used oil. Cellulosic ethanol, once industrialized, will make uses of the inedible woody fibers that usually end up as crop waste.

There are challenges to using biofuels, which include:

• Biofuels are only renewable as long as they are used at a slower rate than they can regrow.
• Even with crops that are inedible by people, there is a question of converting fertile agricultural land—that could be used to feed billions of people—into land used for energy production.
• Establishing a farming area for biofuel crops often means cutting down mature trees which remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the plant crops. Tree removal can also lead to soil erosion and a change in the local biodiversity.
• Producing certain biofuels—like corn—requires lots of water: for irrigating crops and running the refineries.

FINAL THOUGHT: Each of the traditional and emerging methods of biofuel production have advantages and disadvantages, but they all have one aspect in common, and that is they all require land and good soil to grow. This is a social, economic, and political issue that will need to be resolved in the coming years.