Are biofuels the answer to the fuel crisis?

biofuelI was sent this fantastic infographic that got me thinking about biofuel.

It’s quite timely because we’re gearing up for a fuel crisis here in the UK, with panic buying running fuel pumps dry across the country…

On the face of it, biofuels might seem like the perfect alternative to fossil fuels; they are renewable after all.

The trouble is, after you’ve grown the crop, used fertilisers, pesticides and processed the plants into fuel, you’ve consumed a lot of energy. So much so, debate is waging as to whether or not ethanol from corn actually provides as much energy than is required to grow and process it!

But it’s not just about the energy conversion, there are plenty of other issues to be taken into account too.

Here are a few of them off the top of my head:

  • Growing crops for fuel could push food prices higher, forcing more people into poverty.
  • It doesn’t get to the root of the problem; instead of finding alternative fuel, shouldn’t we drive and fly less?
  • If all the corn in the US was made into biofuel it would meet on a small percentage of the country’s fuel needs…
  • Ethanol delivers fewer mpg than diesel or petrol so the chances of meeting demand and even lower!
  • Biofuels aren’t as green as you think – fossil fuels are still used to turn the crop into a usable fuel.

There are ways to make biofuels from WASTE products however, and this really does get me thinking! By utilising old cooking oil, plant stalks or sawdust perhaps there is a cleaner fuel on the horizon.

We’ve a long way to go though; what do you think the answer is? Can we satisfy our weekly driving / flying habits with alternative fuels or do we need to rethink community and stay closer to home?

Biofuel usage in the UK

Biofuel Outlets

Infographics provided by Staveley Head


  1. Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking on April 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Wow! This was really interesting. My husband has wanted to use Bio Fuel for a few years now and has researched many avenues. He was telling me about how a lot of people had really had success with algae.

  2. nadine sellers on April 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    one of the most problematic concerns about corn derived ethanol is the extreme water usage which is required to grow and process the battles ensue between states for surface water rerouting.
    entire aquifers are being depleted by thirsty crops..and people are paying much higher prices for food products for it..water is no longer free and plentiful, and demand is rising as fast as population.

    watching the huge corn fertilizer sprayers and airplanes which drop pesticides around the lovely environment, i wonder about the validity of non food crops..

    time for reducing need through insulation and smarter codes– increasing waste usage as a fuel source..AND expanding solar-hydro-wind as job security and healthful living.

  3. Mrs Green on April 22, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    @Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking: I hope you get something sorted; a friend of ours is using recycled chip fat successfully…

    @nadine sellers: Ahhh, I wasn’t aware of the water usage; there are so many hidden factors to these things.