Updated on May 19, 2015
Biofuels a renewable or limited energy resource?
After a quick research done on the topic of the Double Counting policy induced by the Renewable Energy Directive of the European Union I came to several preliminary conclusions about biofuels.
Basically the question is whether biofuels are – as currently seen by many governments and organisations – a sustainable future energy resource. There are some worrying consequences based on forecasts. Especially the required land usage and nutrients (fertilizers) needed to produce all those biofuels is still of great concern. The preliminary conclusion is that due to the limited resource of phosphates and nitrates (required to grow the algae or other crops for biofuels) as well as land usage, biofuels can be seen as a limited resource. This would mean that it is questionable whether biofuels can be seen as a renewable resource.
Well to answer in short: The expected demand for biofuels will increase a ten fold in 40 years. This means that we will rely more on dedicated grown feedstock for biofuels since residues or waste based feedstock for biofuels is limited – we are not going to eat more potatoes to generate more waste. The increased dedicated grown feedstock will increase demand of nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates. Since these are limited (the easy to mine nutrients) it will have consequences for the availability and price of fertilizers and cause increased competition between agriculture for food production and biofuel production. Also land is a limited resource to grow the feedstock for biofuels, another factor competing with agriculture for food production. The land change required to grow the crops for biofuels also has consequences on increased carbon emissions, increased monocultures and less biodiversity.
Below you can find the poster with some more information from this small research. Unfortunately it does not cover everything due to time restrictions, however I hope to present a more thorough paper here sometime soon.