No foreign crops needed to meet demands for biofuel, says Lund researcher.
While they replace dependency on foreign crude oil, concerns have arisen regarding milieu problems from agriculturally produced biofuels. However, analyses of Sweden's biofuels, conducted at the Lund University of Technology (LTH), have proven that these release between 35% to 140% less greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to conventional gasoline and diesel.
Today, about five percent of the total fuel consumed in Sweden consists of biofuels made from organic raw materials. Besides homegrown distillable crops and reclaimed waste, a portion of this is also imported ethanol.
The research findings shatter contentions claiming that biofuels which are derived from agriculture crops will negatively impact the environment. Critics believe that because biofuels come from crops that are also grown for food, they force additional production of agricultural food crops abroad. The naysayers erroneously reckoned that, when more farmland is needed in foreign countries, carbon dioxide emissions would increase because undisturbed arable grassland would be cleared for farming.
Instead, the new studies found no need at present for increased domestic agricultural production.
Despite these facts, national economy experts continue to espouse the prediction that biofuels will need 50 years before they justify their climate impact, and therefore, fossil fuels are preferable. Pål Börjesson, a researcher of environmental and energy systems who compiled the report at the LTH Faculty of Engineering, says the critics justify their conclusions solely upon faulty estimations of the effects of indirect land use.
In the Swedish studies, biogas that was made from manure exceeded objectives of carbon neutrality and achieved 140% better grades than conventional gasoline, and this was the best rating among ethanol and biodiesel fuels that were examined. Börjesson noted that even the lowest rated biomass sources outperformed fossil fuels by at least 35%.
Studies included biogas from sugar beets, grass, corn, household wastes, industrial wastes and manure as well as biodiesel produced from rapeseed and ethanol produced from wheat. They also included evaluations of ethanol that came from sugar beet sand sugar cane that was grown in Brazil. The researcher pointed out that rating different biofuel sources was not their intention, and emphasized that today's challenge is to produce increased volumes of sustainable biofuels from any combination of environmentally friendly sources.