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By: Shanan Raveendraraj Student Number: 0964258 TA: Matthew Hammond Tutorial Section 7 Oct 17 2011
Biofuels, such as ethanol produced from corn or biofuel from soy, are a class of fuels obtained from the harvesting of large crops of specific plants. This paper will argue that biofuels are a viable way to reduce our global emissions while at the same time introducing many advantages. However, it will also be shown that global interest in biofuels as an alternative fuel source to petroleum must be shown for any difference to be made. The point of this paper is to convince the reader that biofuels offer a wide array of advantages over petroleum, and to show the reader that biofuels deserve the support all countries of the world.
A summary of the energy costs and benefits of biofuels vs. conventional petroleum by Jason Hill et al. (2006) provides the definition of a biofuel as providing``net energy gain, have environmental benefits, be economically competitive, and be producible in large quantities without reducing food supplies.`` Under these criteria, the study evaluates ethanol and biofuel produced from soybeans. It is shown that both types of biofuel produce more energy than consumed in their production, with soybean biofuel producing 93% more energy than consumed (Hill et al., 2006). Biofuel, when generally compared against ethanol, releases about 1% of the pollutants when combusted and produces 41% less greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum combustion (Hill et al., 2006). The problem facing biofuels as a viable fuel source is the fact that they take a large amount of land to grow, which will affect food supply since the land available for food crops will be decreased. In order to consider converting an appropriate
amount of global farmland towards the production of biofuels, there must be global investment in the solution.
The necessity for efficient land allocation actually has an upside: the UN tabled a discussion in 2005 on the possibilities of investment into biofuels, during which plans were discussed to increase the economy of third-world countries by having them grow biofuels for export as well as internal use, thereby raising the world economy by helping countries set up an new energy infrastructure (Coelho, 2005). Brazil is already producing biofuels at a steady and significant rate, and is experiencing ever decreasing costs associated with sustaining future growth (Coelho, 2005). If global interest can be united behind the quest for sustainability and environmental awareness, great results will be seen. Biofuels can even be produced from waste products from food crops, and if farmers assign a percentage of their land to grow biofuel material, biofuels can be produced worldwide in quantities large enough to drive global emissions downwards significantly (Demirbas, 2007).
Biofuels produce substantially less harmful emissions than petroleum, and can be grown naturally in a way that benefits the world, offering jobs to millions of people worldwide while wrestling power away from the `oil giants`. These arguments should be sufficient to convince any reader than biofuels are worth our time, as they can pave the way to a brighter future.
Hill, C. (2006, June 5). Environmental, economic, and energetic costs and benefits of biodiesel and ethanol biofuels. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from http://www.pnas.org/content/103/30/11206.short Coelho, S. (2005, February 4). Biofuels: Advantages and trade Barriers. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/ditcted20051_en.pdf Demirbas, A. (2007, June 25). Biofuels sources, biofuel policy, biofuel economy and global biofuel projections. Retrieved October 13, 2011, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0196890408000770