Here are some of the advantages of biofuels (with a couple of disadvantages as well)
- Doesn’t require any radical changes to switch to the use of biofuels- unlike the difficulties in switching to other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
- Are cheaper than fossil fuels. Many governments are now offering tax incentives to buy greener cars that run on biofuels (ethanol being one example).
- Are considered ‘carbon neutral’ by some people. This is because the carbon dioxide they release when burnt is equal to the amount that the plants absorbed out of the atmosphere. Therefore, they don’t contribute to global warming. However, it does require some fuel to power the machinery on the farms where biofuels are produced. Still, they are better than fossil fuels! Research suggests that they reduce carbon emissions by 50-60%.
- Reduce dependence on foreign oils. Oil fluctuates in price rapidly, so changing to biofuels will help buffer against the change.
- Emit less particulate pollution than other fuels, especially diesel.
- Are renewable sources of energy as you can just keep producing more.
- Ethanol is very inexpensive to produce.
- Can help prevent engine knocking.
- Setting aside land to grow biofuels means that there is less land to grow food. Some people contend that this will lead to more people around the world starving as there will simply not be enough food to feed everyone. It is also possible that food prices will rise as a result.
- More land must be set aside to make biofuels. Natural habitats (flora and fauna) may be lost as a result.
- There are better solutions- such as using hydrogen fuel cells.
- Not many gas stations have biofuels available at the moment. This discourages people from buying cars that are not reliant only on gas.
- Burning corn may release high concentrations of nitrous oxide into the air, which is a greenhouse gas.
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