Why Biofuels Can't Replace Oil

Why Biofuels Can't Replace Oil

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007′s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) orders the use of at least 36 billion gallons of transport biofuels by 2022, up from about 15 billion gallons of output today (by comparison, the U.S. now uses 140 billion gallons of gasoline and 63 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year). Of this, 16 billion gallons is expected to be from “cellulosic biofuels,” which is derived from parts of plants, wood waste, and other non-food feedstocks (although only about 21 million gallons were produced in 2014). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for establishing and implementing regulations to ensure compliance. Ethanol and biodiesel are the two main types of biofuels, derived from organic matter (obtained directly from plants, or indirectly from agricultural, commercial, domestic, and/or industrial wastes). To be a viable alternative for petroleum, a biofuel should provide a net energy gain, offer clear environmental and economic benefits, and not reduce food supplies and/or increase their costs. Biofuels fall short of these requirements and should therefore stay a niche market, used moderately and optionally instead of mandated at wide-scale public use. Environmental groups themselves have found that between 2008 and 2022, biofuels will receive more than $400 billion in subsidies.

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