Using agricultural commodities as fuel source may seem like a bright idea on the surface, but a closer look soon bears out the exact opposite. It is well established that biofuel components in either gasoline or diesel are not particularly effective. Ethanol in gasoline is a mediocre oxygenate that impairs fuel economy. It’s poor reaction with moisture can hinder performance and destroy small engines. Biodiesel congeals in cold temperatures, actually increases hydrocarbon and nitrous oxide emissions and can also cause major problems when exposed to moisture.
Functional issues aside, government biofuel programs sound warm and fuzzy, but in actual fact they pervert markets causing food prices to skyrocket and food shortages in the the Third World. Consider that HALF of the US corn crop goes directly to biofuel conversion. Biofuel subsidies motivate farmers to grow corn over other crops which certainly skews markets and normal supply patterns. These subsidies also motivate farmers to bring land into production that may have been left idle, thereby reducing wildlife habitat.
The real kicker is that is takes almost 30 percent more energy to produce of biofuels than they actually generate as fuel.
So with these considerable drawbacks, why have First World governments been so eager to promote this foolishness? Like everything related to government, look to money and power. Biofuel initiatives placate both the green and ag lobbies. These powerful groups contribute a lot of money to politicians. Politicians are also eager to deliver expensive biofuel production plants to their constituents. This despite that fact that virtually no biofuel plant in the US could even hope to remain viable without rivers of federal and state subsidies.
A new article at realclearenergy.org asks Are Biofuels Causing Food Riots? This article discusses compelling evidence to suggest that biofuel programs do indeed cause food shortages in developing nations.
Wasting food as a fuel source when their are millions starving around the world is truly one of the dumbest things we can imagine.