Merits of Ethanol Biofuel Production Studied
I have long been a biofuel skeptic largely on the basis of concerns regarding whether their production used more energy than it produced. There are also valid concerns regarding whether food production (and prices) would be adversely impacted upon by large scale energy crops. And EcoInternet took the lead in highlighting biofuel's potential impact upon forests and other terrestrial ecosystems as pressures increase for cropland and tree plantations to replace natural vegetation. This is particularly true in rainforests as Asian oil palm and to a lesser degree South American soybeans production cause tropical rainforest destruction.
New findings in the journal Science assuage the first concern, finding that ethanol production is more energy-efficient than some experts had realized. This article indicates researchers are aware of concerns regarding energy crops hurting food prices – stating advanced biofuels must be developed from dedicated energy crops. It is troubling though that the future of biofuels is said to be use of tree cellulose to produce fuel. The last thing the world's dwindling forests need is more monocropped tree plantations or logging pressures to produce biofuel. A wood based biofuel industry would be disaster for forests.