They may be in favour at the White House, but a new report attacks the concept of biofuels being the panacea for either climate change or energy security.
Written by the British-based think tank Science in Society (ISIS), it says that Biofuels have gained prominence from politicians and environmentalists because they are “carbon neutral”, in that they do not add any greenhouse gas into the atmosphere; burning them simply returns to the atmosphere the carbon dioxide that the plants take out when they were growing in the field.
ISIS concludes that biofuels from energy crops cannot substitute for current fossil fuel use. The major constraints are land surface available for growing the crops, crop yield, and energy conversion efficiency, although economics also plays a large role.
“They take up valuable land that should be used for growing food, especially in poor Third World countries” concludes ISIS. “Realistic estimates show that making biofuels from energy crops require more fossil fuel energy than they yield, and do not substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions when all the inputs are accounted for. Furthermore, they cause irreparable damages to the soil and the environment”.
So if biofuels are not the answer – what is?