Analysis of Alternative Fuel: Biodiesel Produced From Bio-Energy Crops

Executive Summary

In the light of an increase in awareness of environmental hazards associated with fossil fuel-based emissions in the environment, there is a need to consider the production of alternative sources of energy that can help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the vehicles thus from the environment. This paper will analyze biofuel for its effects on business, environment, societies and individuals, and economies of countries along with roles played by the governments for implementation of fuel-based policies.

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Introduction

Innovation and The Process Of Adoption

Biofuels have been defined as the kind of fuels that are derived from biomass and these include liquid fuels, biogases, and solid biomass. Every innovation has an ideology and an aim that leads to its success. The production of biofuels is associated with three main ideologies and aims. The main need of these fuels arises from the fact that with the passage of time, there is an increase in fuel prices because of an increase in the need of oil and petroleum products, an increase in dependency along an increased need for energy security.

The second main reason that has given rise to the need of alternative energy sources is an increased awareness of the fact that oil and petroleum products are causing environmental deterioration as a result of which environmentalists argue that dependency on petroleum and oil products needs to be reduced in order to save the environment 1. Thereby in case of biomass-derived biofuels, it has been realized that no environmental pollutants are being emitted by the combustion of these biofuels.

The adoption of biofuel in the developing and underdeveloped world is highly dependent on the country’s political, economical, and social situation. It has been argued that success in the adoption of this innovation lies indirect observations and experiences. Bhojvaid, (2006) has mentioned that an important point that is now associated with biofuels is related to the adoption of biofuels in the countries whose economies are questionable. These countries include Africa. Ibadan is the second-largest city being an agricultural center of Nigeria and it has been known for its current state of turmoil on a civil and political level that has driven military populations inside the cities.

This turmoil has caused a disturbance in the economic infrastructure of the country that is often taken for granted in most the developed countries 2. However, modern days are the days of innovation and it has been seen that the power and fuel needs of this country will be fulfilled in a cost-effective way with the help of biofuel. Other than this, it has been argued that biofuel can be an efficient source of energy, and it can be used for an improvement in life, livelihoods along with great changes in health sectors in many nations. According to a study carried out by Renewables 2005: Global Status Report, on a global scale, more than 16 million households are now depending on biofuel for energy needs by using biofuel digesters.

Success Of biofuel

Worldwatch Institute (2007) has mentioned that many reasons are embedded in the success of biofuel. First reason stems from the foundations, rationale and basics of biofuel production. Biofuel is produced from local waste. It is seen that waste that includes solid and liquid waste, needs to be treated in order to protect the environment. Biofuel is the kind of fuel produced from waste, solid or liquid. Thereby there is no additional need to treat waste.

In addition, there is no need to search and look for raw materials for biofuel. Waste handing has been a tough job on states as there are increased transportation costs and associated waste problems as odor and pollution with an increase and deposit of waste in many areas that can further cause health concerns 3. Thereby , it can be added that efficient and workable sources of energy are produced from waste. Thereby treating waste is now more beneficial than it was some years ago.

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Second main fact that has given biofuel its success is that there is a reduction in green house gases as by the use of biofuel as there is no emission of CO2 from the vehicles using biofuels as fuels. Along with lesser amounts of CO2 lesser methane leakage has been observed in the case of biogas 4.

Amount Of Waste Contributed By Different Industries For Biofuel Production.
Figure 1: Amount Of Waste Contributed By Different Industries For Biofuel Production.

It has been seen that biofuel production from waste has caused an increase in cooperation between farmers, municipalities, industries as well as consumers. In this case, as is illustrated in the diagram, one of the main problems in the food industry is waste and with the help of biofuel production, waste can be handled in an efficient manner. Almost 58% of waste from the food industry is used to produce biogas. Thus in the form of waste, there is a lot of raw material available that can be converted into biofuel 5.

Effects On Individual Businesses

Mousdale, (2008) argues that these days there is a need to reduce dependency on oils and petroleum; as emissions from petroleum and fossil fuel-based vehicles are not only damaging the environment but human health is at great risk. Awareness has increased in consumers of vehicles working on oil and petroleum-based fuels. Thereby, consumers and environmentalists, these days are against these fuels. With the use of vehicles based on biofuel, there is a decrease in the emission of greenhouse gases as CO2, hazardous oxides of nitrogen, and sulfur. On the basis of these arguments, it has been seen that as compared to other alternative fuels, biofuel has gained more popularity and there is increased adoption of this fuel in the market 6.

In this scenario, there is a need to locate a functional and potential market for biofuel and in order to do this, there are three subareas of these markets that are to be explored including vehicle market, distribution as well as production. Nevertheless, in this regards it has been argued that roles played by vehicle markets can increase the popularity of biofuel in fuel markets.

Furfari, (2008) argues that when modern-day consumers buy vehicles, some of the main facts that are taken into consideration include the kinds of fuels being used and the cost-effectiveness of the vehicle in terms of health7. In this case, vehicles that utilize biofuels have been successful. Thereby, car manufacturers that design biofuel based engines are more succesfull in the market. Following is a list if car manufactures that have now started to design engines that work on biofuels.

List of Car Manufacturers selling Biofuel based cars.
Table 1: List of Car Manufacturers selling Biofuel based cars.

Here a new concept that has been linked to biofuel based cars is ‘eco car’ and many definitions have been given for this term. However, in the year of 2007, it was seen that there was a global registration of 55000 eco cars and more than 50% of these cars were from Sweden.

Role Of Government Policies

Olsson, and Ahring, (2007) argue that along with other parts of the world, an importance of biofuel has been realized in many countries including UK. Recently the government of UK has announced that more than 5% of petrol and fuel sold in UK will be from renewable sources. British government has recently designed a new plan referred to as ‘Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation’.

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According to this plan, there are campaigns that will increase awareness of using biofuels as compared to oil-based vehicles. This new rule promised that using renewable energy source based fuels could help in reducing the amount of CO2 in the environment by 1 million tons on an annual basis. It has been argued that these kind of government policies will not only help in promoting biofuel market but also in reducing the effects of pollutants on climate thereby helping in achieving goals of climate change. To this, additional support is provided by The UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA) that has argued that biofuels has shown a way to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere 8.

Other than waste, governments of countries as UK and US have realized on the basis of research that biofuels can be produced from sugar and recently these governments are working on building biofuel plants that can process sugar in order to produce biofuels. In UK, a biofuel plant will process sugar grain and beet in order to produce 55 million tons of bioethanol every year that will be used as an energy source. It has been reported that from this amount, at least 5% of country’s need of fuel can be fulfilled.

Effects of Biofuel Innovation On Society And Individuals

Biofuels have had an enormous impact on societies as well as individuals. Most important part of this impact is an economical impact that has been observed in case of businesses. Other than car manufactures, additional business benefits have also been gained by the farmers. It has been estimated by Worldwatch Institute (2007) that after selling into the market, an additional 3.5 million tones of grains is left with the farmers. Thereby analysts have argued that if this additional amount is sold out to biofuel producers, grains can be sold at a profitable price of £10-15 per ton. Thereby it has been estimated that a shift from oil-based products to biofuels can be good news for small scale farmers.

Thereby, there are economic impacts on the society if there is shift towards biofuels production. Farmers can be provided higher value of wheat than estimated by the help of biofuel plants. These advantages are not just limited to wheat farmer; as different agricultural products can be utilized as biofuels and these include rapeseed ad virgin oils. Economic gains are seen in the society by the use and implementation of biofuels.

Research has shown that 65% lesser emission of green house gases is observed in case of vehicles that use bioethanol and these numbers can show great effects on the climate and environments having positive effects on health of individuals in societies.

Parties Benefiting And Losing Because Of Biofuels

Although it has been argued that biofuels have additional economic and environmental advantages but on an economic scale, higher authorities have identified some facts that prove that production and transportation of these fuels is less economical. In this case, bioethanol has been taken into consideration. Furfari, (2008) has argued that provision and transport of fossil-based fuel is still considered economical as compared to biofuel as special equipments are required for its transportations. Thereby businesses that face disadvantages from the innovation of biofuels include service stations.

Oil giants operate most of the service stations in many countries and these service stations are anticipated to be closed down because of no sales of oil in face of higher success and appreciation of biofuel. There is a need to persuade these oil service stations to uptake biofuels but in economic terms, it is not pragmatic for oil giants. Thereby oil based service stations are threatened by these innovations that replace fossil fuel based products.

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On the other hand, it has been observed that some super markets have started selling bioethanol in the face of increasing awareness of environmental pollution. Still more work and better policies are needed that can help replace fossil based fuels to reduce hazardous effects of petroleum products on the environment 9.

Farmers are small-scale business parties that have gained advantages because of biofuels. It has been argued that selling surplus agricultural products to the biofuel manufacturers can help them gain additional revenues.

It has been observed by Mousdale, (2008) that stronger state based policies have been implemented by countries as Sweden and Brazil and based on their policies, innovation and adoption of biofuels has been a success. There are many automobile industries in Brazil that have been manufacturing biofuel based automobiles since many years. Ford has come up with flex-fuel models in Sweden, and this system is even more successful and makes more sale volumes in contrast to ordinary diesel and petrol cars.

Justifying Biofuel Success

Furfari, (2008) mentions that innovation of biofuels has been a great success. This success stems from the goals of biofuel production. These cover wastage treatment and control along with a control on emission of green house gases as these two are the main concerns of modern-day environmentalists. Analysis of results of environmental carbon foot printing shows that there is an increase in carbon dioxide in the air along with an increase of oxides of nitrogen and sulfur that are now considered hazardous. Thereby results from several researches have shown that using biofuels can be helpful in controlling emissions of green house gases in the environment by using vehicles that are not based on fossil fuel based fuels.

This success is not only based on customer awareness of environmental pollution and climate change process, which is in turn based on use of fossil fuel cars. Most important roles have been played by government policies, initiatives and incentives.

In this case again, Brazil is an important example where awareness program for biofuel was started and it was not based on financial and environmental reasons, but on patriotic reasons. Brazil is among one of those countries where importance of air pollution and environmental pollution has been realized since many years. Brazilian government started to make military interventions since 1964 that continued until 1985. There was an increased desire in the Brazilian government to reduce its dependence on oil after oil crisis in 1970s 10.

Bhojvaid, (2006) has taken into account another most important example from which inspirations are to be gained in order to change government-based policies for more sales of biofuel; is state based national implementation of Sweden’s rule of no duty on fuels. It has been observed that in many Swedish states including Gothenburg and Stockholm, free parking is allowed for biofuel bases cars. Moreover; Sweden has been known for selling biofuel-based cars on 20% lesser prices with no Stockholm congestion charges on these cars.

Conclusion

Biofuels have been considered as the most suitable replacement of fossil fuels and goals associated with climate change can be achieved by using biofuels. One of the main advantages of producing biofuels from waste is there are less costs associated with waste treatment processing. There are other ways to produce biofuels including agricultural ways. Industries that can obtain great advantages from waste handling and treatment issues include food industry, as almost 50% of waste from this industry is used in biofuel production. Along with these benefits, there are a set of issues faced in case of biofuels and these are under discussion in many journals and newspapers.

Appendices

  • Figure 1: Amount Of Waste Contributed By Different Industries For Biofuel Production 6
  • Table 1: List of Car Manufacturers selling Biofuel based cars

References

Bhojvaid, P. P. (2006). Biofuels: towards a greener and secure energy future. TERI Press.

Furfari, A. (2008). Biofuels: illusion or reality? : the European experience. TECHNIP.

Mousdale, M. D. (2008). Biofuels: biotechnology, chemistry, and sustainable development. CRC Press.

Olsson, L., and Ahring, K. B. (2007). Biofuels; Volume 108 of Advances in biochemical engineering/biotechnology; Volume 108 of Advances in Biochemical Engineering / Biotechnology. Springer.

Worldwatch Institute. (2007). Biofuels for transport: global potential and implications for sustainable energy and agriculture. Earthscan.

Footnotes

  1. P. P. Bhojvaid, (2006), Biofuels: towards a greener and secure energy future, TERI Press,p. 78.
  2. Ibid., p. 85.
  3. A. Furfari, (2008), Biofuels: illusion or reality? : the European experience, TECHNIP, p. 67.
  4. Ibid., p. 70.
  5. Worldwatch Institute. (2007), Biofuels for transport: global potential and implications for sustainable energy and agriculture, Earthscan, p. 56.
  6. L. Olsson, and K. B. Ahring, (2007), Biofuels; Volume 108 of Advances in biochemical engineering/biotechnology; Volume 108 of Advances in Biochemical Engineering / Biotechnology. Springer, p, 56.
  7. Ibid., p. 89.
  8. M. D. Mousdale, (2008), Biofuels: biotechnology, chemistry, and sustainable development. CRC Press, p. 67.
  9. Worldwatch Institute. (2007). Biofuels for transport: global potential and implications for sustainable energy and agriculture. Earthscan, p. 34.
  10. A. Furfari, (2008), Biofuels: illusion or reality? : the European experience. TECHNIP, p. 23.
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