Dave's Eco-nomics: Why bother with bio?

- Green alert

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

A quarter of the UK's carbon emissions come from cars. So everyone agrees we need to get off the black stuff, especially with oil prices soaring. But even as biofuels are being touted as the alternative, some say they do more harm than good.

- Action plan

Biofuels are clean and renewable and can be accommodated by existing vehicles and the refuelling infrastructure - which is why governments are keen to get involved. The EU has called for biofuels to meet 5.75% of transport-fuel needs by 2010. The backlash has been joined recently by the Royal Society. Biofuels, principally ethanol, are produced from crops such as maize, but should we use food to power our cars when others are starving? Then there's the effect on food prices, cause of last year's tortilla riots in Mexico. Critics also point out the damage done to eco-systems by 'deforestation diesel', and that producing and transporting biofuels requires ... yet more fuel. So, do biofuels have a future? Probably. Crops are being modified to make the refining process more efficient, and powerful people like George Bush are behind the drive. At the point of use, at least, they are cleaner. Take Saab's BioPower system, which runs on bioethanol E85 and emits up to 70% less CO2 than the petrol equivalent.

- Greenie points (out of 10)

Two now, but more if the technology improves. We have to do something, after all.

- Dave Waller is MT's resident eco-roadie.

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