Any fuel that has been sourced from a living organism or its waste is referred as biofuel. While this is a pure technical definition and under this category most types of fuels are included, presently the term biofuel is used in a more restricted meaning. It refers to gas and liquid vehicle fuels that have been sourced from crops or bio waste products. Bio diesel sourced from vegetables oil and ethanol sourced from sugar beet are some of the known biofuels. This type of fuel has been used since a very long time but it is only recently that it has been thrown into the limelight. It is because of increasing cost of fossil fuels and economic advantages of using biofuels.
Why Biofuel is Controversial?
Now there are many companies that offer consultancy services in this sector. Similar to professionals offering logistics consultancy, there are biofuels companies that offer their professional services to crop growers and other ancillary industries. The environmental impact of the biofuels is a hotly debated subject all over the world. This subject has become controversial because some developed countries are using a large part of their land to grow crops that are used only for manufacturing biofuels. Some food and environmental experts fear that it can cause a spike in the costs of food items in poor and developing countries. However, it is not an open and shut case and biofuel presents environmental advantages as well.
Most countries have parts of their lands that cannot be used to grow any type of crop. However, such lands can be used successfully for growing biofuel crops that need minimum use of water and almost no need of any fertilizer, insecticide and herbicide. With careful management and planning it is possible to achieve a balance between biofuel production and securing food security. To achieve this objective, there are some important guidelines that must be followed.
Things to Do to Reduce its Impact on Environment
Experts involved in crop and food production advise that only high yield variety crops that require minimum use of water and other resources should be used. One problem often cited with biofuel is its high use of energy during the crop to biofuel processing phase. The use of energy during this phase can be reduced substantially by using unique and efficient methods. Growers are advised to choose marginal rather than prime agricultural lands. In place of large-scale farming, developing countries are advised to prefer smaller scale production on lands that are not arable. It will benefit not only the poor of the area but also non-arable farm holders.
Biofuel processing centers should be near the farms and biofuels generated through these centers should be used locally as much as possible. With increasing demand for oil and dwindling sources of fossil fuels, the benefits of biofuels will increase further. It is a renewable source of energy and does not leave as destructive footprint as other fossil fuels. Most importantly, biofuels provide economic security to developing countries, most of whom have become highly dependent on external sources of oil. They are forced every year to spend large part of their revenue on importing oil from other countries. Biofuels will help them save money spent on importing oil.