Biofuels are considered to be the renewable, more sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternative to other energy sources like fossil fuels or nuclear energy, but biofuels also come with environmental concerns around them.
Darren Dohme explains that to assess the effect on the environment, you have to consider the emissions of greenhouse gasses all the way from production to transport and usage.
Are Biofuels Good For the Environment by Darren Dohme
Biofuels are definitely better for the environment than fossil fuels, but this is limited to the fuels themselves. However, the production and transportation process has raised concerns from critics since biofuels first came into use, and this concern is only growing.
Pure biofuel is nontoxic and biodegradable, and when burned, will produce much fewer emissions of toxic substances than fossil fuels. According to Darren Dohme, while they do produce carbon dioxide, these emissions are not taken into consideration since the growth of biomass is considered to offset this production.
The effects on the environment from biofuels do not come from the biomass itself, but from how it is produced.
How Biofuels Can Harm The Environment by Darren Dohme
Biofuels can have a negative effect on the environment, but again, this is more about the production process rather than the use of biofuels themselves.
Biofuels can be used to produce energy, but because biomass is a lot less energy dense than fossil fuels, a very large amount of biomass is required to produce the same amount of energy. Darren Dohme explains that very large areas of land would have to be cleared to grow the biomass needed to produce energy. This is not good for the environment, because it reduces the eco-diversity of the land and disturbs the life cycle.
To grow large numbers of plants, large amounts of water would be needed, with even more water being needed in drier climates than humid ones. This can have its downsides, not just because of water shortages around the world, but also because the water that is used in the agricultural process is often polluted with pesticides and fertilizers and this can pollute water bodies that it enters once it has been drained from the agricultural land.
While biofuels are meant to produce energy, there is quite a lot of energy that goes into growing the biomass itself. Darren Dohme explains that this energy is usually extracted from fossil fuels and this adds to the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the air. When the level of energy being put in and the environmental implications of this energy production is taken into consideration, the net benefit from biofuels is very low.
Biofuels also come with other downsides, such as the increased cost of labor and storage. On top of this, the fact that agricultural land being used for biofuels will result in less land dedicated to food production which can become a problem with rising population levels.