The main difference between biofuels and fossil fuels lies in their source. Biofuels are derived from sources like sunflower, rapeseed, soybean and palm oil, while fossil fuels are derived from petroleum. Biofuels are considered as an alternative to fossil fuel because biofuels are a renewable source of energy that also emit less greenhouse gases compared to what fossil fuels release on being used. These are also non-poisonous and easily biodegradable. Although it may seem like a better option in a world that is suffering from the “greenhouse effect” and is also running out of petroleum, there are several other points to be considered as well.
The greatest advantage of biofuels is the fact that they are a renewable source of energy and they can also be used in order to make use of the depleting fossil fuels more efficiently. If a biofuel is emitting much less greenhouse gases as well as pollutants, then it is obviously a healthier and “greener” alternative to petroleum-based fuels, so bio-fuels pose les threat on our health. Another big advantage that biofuels have over fossil fuels is the fact that if they are used, they will surely reduce costs, both in terms of production and foreign import expenses.
Now that we have mostly covered the good regarding the use of biofuels, let us consider some issues that are preventing it from becoming as popular as it should be by now. The main forms of biofuel are biodiesel and ethanol; both are made from food crops. This is the point where the problem starts as using the oil, stem and other parts of the plants to produce biofuel means that a huge portion of the food crops that are produced will not be available for consumption anymore, thus it may create a food shortage. This is a big and very practical problem as food comes before fuel as a basic necessity for the sustenance of life.
Ironical to the fact that biofuels are made to reduce pollution and preserve our planet other than also serving our fuel needs, it is leading to mass deforestation. Rainforests are being replaced by palm trees everyday because it is a source of palm oil, from which biodiesel is manufactured. Before the manufacture of biodiesel started, palm oil was used mainly for consumption purposes, but now that it has another use, the pressure for production has also increased and thus the deforestation has also speeded up.
As it can be seen clearly, along with advantages of biofuels, there are also other negative factors that require careful evaluation as well. We cannot shift to biodiesel or ethanol totally from petroleum, because it will create several other unavoidable problems, but what is required is a balanced use of the biofuels and clear instructions by the government regarding the entire matter. Also required, is education and spread of knowledge about the entire situation, so that people can understand and act accordingly. What is the point of replacing petroleum with biofuels, if it solves one problem, but leads to a bunch of others?