Biofuels

by Antonio Pasolini on February 12, 2008

Another bad week for biofuels. According to two new studies being published by Science magazine this Thursday, biofuels used today cause more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels if the full emissions costs of producing these ‘green’ fuels are taken into account.

According to an article in the New York Times, “The first study, led by Princeton University environmental law researcher Timothy Searchinger, found that replacing fossil fuels with corn-based ethanol – the darling of the U.S. biofuel industry – would double greenhouse gas emissions for the next thirty years. Even switchgrass, seen as a far more efficient alternative, would produce a 50% bump in emissions”.

The article added: “Over time, as the incremental sequestration of CO2 in their roots matched the CO2 once stored by cleared vegetation, using biofuels probably would cut emissions – but that could take decades. And the second study, authored by Nature Conservancy researchers, pegged that timetable at the level of centuries.”

The only exception right now is the sugar cane grown in Brazil, which takes little energy to grow and is readily refined into fuel.

An entry on the David Suzuki Foundation’s blog recommends that biofuels ‘need work’ while Wired says it would love to see presidential candidates grilled on this topic.

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