Biofuels and Energy

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The use of biofuels has in the latest times increased and this has been credited due to the advantages that have arisen as a result of replacing oil with choice plant based biofuels such as biodiesel and ethanol. The dependence of oil over the years has had a negative affect on the environment through air air pollution and therefore the use of biofuels provides a possible alternative. Biofuels are a renewable source of energy as it is derived from agricultural plants. This essentially means that farmers can produce them domestically which consequently allows the country to limit the over dependence on the unstable oil market. It is important to note that biofuels have immense huge benefits but at the same time have proved to have its demerits. This paper shall therefore delve to highlight the pros and cons of biofuels and further highlight the future of biofuels.

Advantages of biofuels

No fuel source can be termed to be either entirely negative or positive. It is in this case many people tend to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages to evaluate as whether the fuel source can provide a viable alternative against traditional fuels. One of the advantages of biofuels is that it may lead to a cut in the fuel prices. The use of biofuels has the potential of being less expensive when compared to petroleum or other fossil fuels (Tilman et al 2009). This even will become apparent as the global demand for oil increases while on the other hand its supplies dwindle. In this case the cost of fuel will go down as more and more sources of biofuels become explored. The other advantage is that for biofuels the source materials are readily available. Unlike oil whose availability is limited to certain countries and regions, biofuels can be sourced from a huge range of materials which may include manure, waste and other byproducts (Aransiola et al 2014). Renewability is another advantage of biofuels when compared to other sources of fuel. For instance in the next one hundred the source of oil will have dwindled drastically. On the other hand fossil fuels are very easily renewable as new crops can be grown and the waste to be used in the generation of biofuels is collected.

The dependence of countries on foreign sourced fuels has over the years caused a strain to many economies. Biofuels provides a remedy to this as it can be produced locally. It is certain to note that by biofuels being created locally then it means that there is an increase in job opportunities for many people to work in the various biofuel producing firms. The creation of jobs will occur especially in the rural areas which therefore leads to the equitable wealth distribution. It is important to highlight that the growth in the use of biofuels will also bring about a growth in the demand for biofuel crops which will further provide economic stimulation of the agricultural industry (Pourzolfaghar et al 2016). One of the main advantages of this form of fuel is that it has lower carbon emissions. In the recent times there has been growing concern and campaigns against the use of fuels that bring about high carbon emissions. It has become evident that carbon emitting fuels have resulted to the destruction of our environment and as a result many companies are embracing clean energy. Biofuels is one of those fuels that are termed as clean energy due to the fact when they are burned they result to lower carbon emission and fewer toxins. Therefore it provides a safer alternative which will result to the preservation of our environment.

Disadvantages

Despite there being very many advantages associated with biofuels, there also many demerits that arise as a result of its use. One of the main disadvantages is that biofuels when compared to other traditional fuels emit lower energy output. Therefore this means that a lot of it will have to be burned to emit the same energy levels. It is because of this that many energy analysts have come to believe that this form of energy is not a worth replacement. There have been several studies that have been undertaken to analyze biofuel carbon footprint (Pourzolfaghar et al 2016). The results across the board have noted that even though it may be a cleaner source of energy to burn, the process that brings about the production of the fuel results to hefty carbon emissions. The production process can include the use of machinery to produce the fuel and to cultivate the crops. The setting up of biofuels firms requires a huge capital outlay and additionally the cost to refine biofuels to energy outputs that are efficient can also be very costly. Despite the fact biofuels may results to a decrease in the fuel prices, on the other hand it will result to an increase in the prices of staple foods. As the demand of biofuels increases the demand of certain foods such as corn will also increase which may push food prices higher. That notwithstanding the growth in the demand may also cause food shortage (Aransiola et al 2014).

The future of biofuels

The production of biofuels is getting closer to large scale commercial production. Currently the US is the leader in the commercial production of biofuels. There are more than 20 firms in the US that have currently declared their intentions to construct cellulosic fuels plants. One of these companies is Somerville which has recently set up a huge facility in Louisiana. Additionally, there has been a joint venture between Verenium and BP which is aimed at developing and commercializing cellulosic ethanol (Pourzolfaghar et al 2016). The facility that will allow the creation of ethanol from non-food feedstock is to be set up in Florida. It is certain to note that ethanol is being seen as being one of the fuel sources that will have a huge impact in the fuel market.

The United States is being seen as being very attractive for biofuel producers due to the fact the government has offered huge grants to producers something that has not been seen in Europe. Companies such as Ricardo, a US based company are currently coming up with technology that would deal with ethanol in a more efficient manner. The consumption of energy is expected to increase by 57% by 2030, which means that an alternative energy source needs to be presented to replace the already declining oil supply. It is certain that biofuels are the most promising alternatives and its use is growing rapidly. It is expected that by 2030 the use of biofuels will grow by 3 percent every year especially due to the increase in mobility in India and china. The environment stands to benefit tremendously due to the decrease in the carbon emissions.

References

Aransiola, E. F., Ojumu, T. V., Oyekola, O. O., Madzimbamuto, T. F., & Ikhu-Omoregbe, D. I. O. (2014). A review of current technology for biodiesel production: State of the art. Biomass and bioenergy, 61, 276-297.

Pourzolfaghar, H., Abnisa, F., Daud, W. M. A. W., & Aroua, M. K. (2016). A review of the enzymatic hydroesterification process for biodiesel production. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 61, 245-257.

Tilman, D., Socolow, R., Foley, J. A., Hill, J., Larson, E., Lynd, L., … & Williams, R. (2009). Beneficial biofuels—the food, energy, and environment trilemma. Science, 325(5938), 270-271.

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