The biofuel controversy

“Buses powered by soybeans.  Agricultural waste transformed into car fuel.  These possibilities have inspired governments around the world to include biofuels as a substantial part of their renewable energy standards, which mandate some percent of a country’s energy come from renewable and/or carbon-free sources.  The European Union will count biofuels towards their goal of using renewables for 10% of their transportation energy use, and the United States is aiming for 12% of energy in transportation to come from biomass by 2025.

But are biofuels truly the revolutionary oil replacement that governments hope them to be?  They are generally renewable on annual to decadal timescales, depending on the type of crop used, but are they carbon-free?  Policymakers assume so, but this is actually not the case.  And how would the huge increase in biofuel production conflict with land use for food and animal feed?”


Want to read more about why biofuels may not be the answer for new transportation energy?  Read the rest of the post at the ‘Eyes on Environment’ Nature Scitable blog here.


Horita, M., Kitamoto, H., Kawaide, T., Tachibana, Y., & Shinozaki, Y. (2015). On-farm solid state simultaneous saccharification and fermentation of whole crop forage rice in wrapped round bale for ethanol production Biotechnology for Biofuels, 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13068-014-0192-9

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