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What are the disadvantages of biofuels?

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  • The disadvantage of biofuels is that despite being a renewable source of energy the levels of power/energy it produces are not high enough (compared to fossil fuels) to be used commerically i.e. for industry, power stations etc.
  • Despite the many positive characteristics of biofuels, there are also many disadvantages to these energy sources. The main issue is producing biofuels in a sustainable way. This means an emphasis on agricultural practices that do not use rainforests / other endangered habitats or food crop producing land or extensive irrigation or fertilization. Some Biofuels are more harmful than others.


Rainforest and natural habitat destruction:
  • Palm oil can be especially damaging but is cheaper than other alternatives. Most palm oil is produced on destroyed rainforest habitat.) Unilever is the world's biggest purchaser of palm oil. The Center for Orangutan Protection concluded orangutans there could be extinct in Borneo by 2011.

Greenhouse gas reduction:
  • Rapeseed may produce more CO2 than fossil fuels - (link below).
  • Shell is working to develop the fuel ethanol from wheat straw to reduce waste and emissions - (link below).
  • It takes 840 years for a palm oil plantation to soak up the carbon emitted when rainforest is burnt to plant the crop.
  • Modern agriculture uses a lot of farm machinery and a lot of petroleum-based fuel to run that machinery, so that the fuel invested to create biofuel can offset any possible savings from using biofuel as a substitute for petroleum-based fuels.
  • Several studies have been conducted to analyze the carbon footprint of biofuels, and while they may be cleaner to burn, there are strong indications that the process to produce the fuel - including the machinery necessary to cultivate the crops and the plants to produce the fuel - has hefty carbon emissions.
  • Biofuels have a lower energy output than traditional fuels and therefore require greater quantities to be consumed in order to produce the same energy level.

Affect on existing agriculture and water supplies:
  • Biofuel production can adversely affect food and water supplies to poorer communities and income from agriculture for those communities. It can contribute to deforestation and soil erosion.
  • Also, because land ownership is so important to survival, human rights are often very sensitive to any change in land use.
  • As demand for food crops such as corn grows it could also raise prices for necessary staple food crops. Malaysia & Indonesia currently meet about 87% of global palm oil demand. China is currently the world's largest importer of palm oil, accounting for one third of all global trade. Biofuel is made from things such as corn, which may be more needed in the form of food than they are as fuel.

they are more labour intensive and take longer to make . they are also less popular.
well biofuels are great because they use less fossil fuels. but the problem is that they cause food prices to go up, which will affect us and the the poorest countries in the world, especially those people that already cant afford food. in my own experiance, they caused my millage to be way lower then usual, i went from 22 mpg in my truck to about 12 or 13, maybe in the future they will fix these problems, but for now i dont support biofuels, we would be trading one problem for another.

You can by cars made for biofuels. The Saab 9-3 is avalible with an E85 model (for not much more) that uses 85% ethonal. This means the car is cheaper to run, uses less fossil fuel and also runs better. E85, however had limited avalibility. For example it is avalible in the UK but only at a few places in Australia. So if you live in Europe it could be worth it, these cars can run on regular petrol too.
1. Food vs. Fuel Converting a significant amount of the very limited amount of arable land on the planet from food production to fuel production decreases global food supply, leading to obvious problems such as increased food prices and famine in less wealthy areas. This could be countered either by restricting biofuel production or developing better food plants with better yields (will likely involve genetic engineering).

 2. Deforestation Countries that have based their economies on biofuel export may destroy preexisting forests and convert the land for biofuel production. This decreases the overall effectiveness of biofuel usage since the destruction of forests, which are much more efficient at absorbing atmospheric CO2 then biofuel plants, increases net carbon output.

 3. Water shortage Growing plants for biofuel needs substantial amounts of water, and in regions with little water, irrigation may deplete water supply for people and livestock.

 4. Bio-gas The main disadvantage is the loss of the organic waste for compost or fertilizer.
Limited in the quantity of electricity it can produce on the global scale.
There is little or no control on the rate of gas production, although the gas can, to some extent be stored and used as required.

There are other factors as well. Check the Wikipedia page on Issues relating to biofuels for more details.



The two biggest obstacles to bio-fuel are:
1. It take up space - the amount of space required to produce 1 barrel of biodiesel from vegetable (soy bean) oil is 2/3rds of an acre. It would take therefore 880,000 acres to produce in one year the amount of oil produced by drilling, in the state of Texas, in one day. or more succinctly it would take an area twice the size of Texas to replace the oil produced there.

2. It is costly: It costs $2.80 per gallon to produce 1 gallon of bio-diesel. It costs $0.75 per gallon to produce diesel from petroleum.

** statistics for corn oil are higher, and for rapeseed oil are slightly lower.
A third disadvantage would be soil depletion, growing a single crop on a given property depletes essential nutrients for that crop.

That being said, biodiesel produced as a part of a more diversified renewable energy plan is not a bad idea.
Plants used for biofuels could be used for food.
Thanks for the feedback!

What is biofuel?

Biofuel can best be described as an alternative fuel source,whether solid, liquid, or gas, which is derived from biomass.Biomass is the base compound for biofuels, and comes f

Is biofuel renewable?

Biofuel is renewable because the process that generates the fuel is ongoing. Trees can be regrown, sewage can be converted into methane, and oil and alcohol can be generated f

What is biofuel energy?

Biofuel energy is a type of energy that is created from organic  products. Biofuel energy is a renewable energy source.

How does biofuel work?

Biofuel is any kind of oil (vegetable oil) or organic burnable  material (biomass) that is not fossil fuel (coal, oil and natural  gas). Biofuel is renewable because it come

Disadvantages of biofuels?

Despite the many positive characteristics of biofuels, there are also many disadvantages to these energy sources.   The main issue is producing biofuels in a sustainable wa

What are the advantages and disadvantages of biofuels?

Advantages Biofuel advocates frequently point out the advantages of these plant- and animal-based fuels, such as: Cost: . Once the technology is widely available, bio

What does biofuel do?

Bio fuel is basically fuel but instead of using fossil fuel to make it, you use matter to make it (for example: vegetable oil can be used to produce Bio-fuel. PS: You should

What what are in biofuels?

Ethanol primarily.

What are some disadvantages of biofuel?

Less energy output by volume compared to petroleum, currently inefficient production means high ratio of energy put into producing biofuel versus energy yielded from fuel itse

What can biofuels be used in?

Liquid biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel can be used in cars and  trucks. Any sort of combustion engine can use biofuels, sometimes  with a little tuning.

Are biofuels the future?

Yes and no. They are an important step to completely sustainable energy use throughout the world. Virtually all energy on our planet comes, in one form or another, from the su

What problems are there with biofuel?

The main problem with biofuel is trying to make it economically viable. Most of the current methods are simply too expensive, but that will probably change with more research