Biofuels: a good alternative?
There has been much discussion about the pros and cons of biofuels as an alternative for fossil energy. I am very much in favour of developing the so-called second generation of biofuels which are produced from plant rests and branches. The current biofuels are made from the edible parts of plants such as the current biofuels. In my opinion this is indeed a form of green energy, but not the right kind.
Why should we use biofuels in the first place? This seems pretty obvious. The amounts of oil and gas that are present in the earth have been formed during four-hundred million years. These resorts of oil and gas are made from tiny plant and animals rests. Human kind is now in the act of completely emptying this resort of oil and gas. It takes us no more than four hundred years to do so… Basically, and this is astonishing, we are using daily (!) what has been formed in the soil during two thousand years. The demand for oil and gas is now huge, and will only increase. Countries such as India, and China are demanding more and more fuels. In a time span of one or two centuries, our descendants will look back on our time as the couple of hundred years that we managed to empty the entire amount of fuels present in the earth! This being said, we urgently need to look for alternative, green energy.
Biofuels seemed the logic answer!
Biofuels seemed the perfect answer because they were made of rape-seed a.o. that could be planted over and over again. In addition, the carbon dioxide produced by cars would be transformed by the growing rapeseed. This seemed a perfect solution to our increasing demand for energy..
What do we expect from these types of green energy? They need to be ecologically-friendly, i.e. they should not cause a carbon dioxide footprint and can be produced endlessly. In addition, there should not be any negative side effects.
There are some arguments strongly against these biofuels produced from for instance rapeseed. First, the amount of agricultural land needed to produce the necessary rapeseed is impossibly large. A car in motion uses as many calories per hour as five hundred people. In order to produce a mere 5% of gasoline and diesel, we would need to evacuate an area as large as the entire part of The Netherlands north of Amsterdam and sow rapeseed. For human kind this is no less than a disaster. It increases the price of food for poor people. What is even worse, the production of biofuels do not even reduce the carbon-dioxide footprint. Its production costs a lot of Co2, even more than is now caused by using gasoline.
Last but not least, its production costs a lot of water which to a large extent comes from underground stocks of water that are not endless.
According to the European Union we need to add biofuel to gasoline and diesel. By the year 2020 this should be 10% of what we are putting in our engines. This measure should reduce the output of greenhouse gases. This seems a wrong measure, unless we will be able to produce a second generation of green energy such as biofuels made from non-edible plant rests and branches.
I suppose we all want to reduce our carbon footprint and are in favour of second generation biofuels. Why? Because this is good for the environment. There are many people out there who would want to take a first step in order to make this world a better place. Why not consider taking a tiny step and get yourself a solar charger? I will let you know when we can start using good biofuels in due course!