Biofuels have been at the centre of a multitude of discussions within the energy sector over the years. Although it has been researched for almost as long as we’ve had vehicles capable of locomotion, biofuels have yet to be considered a viable option to replace fossil fuels – but why is that?
As biofuel programs around the world have taught us, it is that this renewable fuel can only work on a small to medium scale before becoming more of an issue than a solution. Biofuels are created from crops, usually corn, sugarcane or oil pams, but as can be seen with the palm oil industry in South East Asia, when demand for such products increase, rainforest and arable land are soon turned into plantations that can have a devastating effect on the local environment.
On a small scale, biofuels are an interesting approach compared to the usual suspects, and have had success in tailored projects. For example, the Swedish town of Kistianstad uses biogas to generate enough fuel to run the city’s fleet of public service vehicles, or the equivalent of 1.1 million gallons of gasoline each year. In several countries, biofuel sourced from agricultural scraps, trash or other renewable sources contribute to the national power grid, but are still overtaken from an energy production standpoint by larger renewables such as solar, wind or hydroelectric.
So is it realistic to expect biofuels to have an impact on our consumption habits? Yes. Biofuels are still being researched to make them more attractive as an alternative to more polluting fossil fuels, and whilst it is entirely possible that we are never able to roll it out as a major alternative, it can help compliment other forms of renewable energy that are currently, or will soon be, on the market. There are already many vehicles that are powered by biofuels, and every form of transport that doesn’t use fossil fuels is definitely a win for the environment.
With recent breakthroughs in renewables, alternate energy sources and sustainable development, biofuels will certainly play a role in the future of our planet’s development along with several other types of environmentally-friendly energy sources. For example, France is experimenting with hydrogen energy for all public service vehicles, adding to its plan to replace it’s fossil-fuel consuming vehicles to either hybrids or electric models. The change is out there, but no one ever said we had to adhere to only one form of renewable energy.