The crops currently used for green fuels in Europe are inefficient and contributes to global warming. In Brazil you can fill your car with environmentally friendly ethanol for half the prize of gasoline.
Maize is bad, so is soy. Oil palms are often planted on destroyed rainforest and useful agricultural land, said professor Stephen P. Long, a crop expert at Illinois University, at the Kyoto Conference on Friday. In his speech he examined the different plants currently used for biofuel, to find the perfect crop.
No Use for maize
A main topic of Stephen’s research is the efficiency of various crops for biofuel production, and their contribution to global warming. According to Stephen and other recent articles, maize emits even more greenhouse gasses than fossile fuels. Therefore Europe and Western society must invest in research and experimental crops to develop a sustainable and efficient energy sector based on biofuels as Brazil has done.
Brazil turned green in the seventies
During the first global energy crisis in the seventies, Brazil invested massively in its sugarcane industry for use in energy production. Now the country is recognized as having the most efficient and biobased energy sector in the world.
Alternatives to sugar and maize exist
While the highly efficient sugarcane cannot grow in cold regions like Northern Europe, new species can be cultivated with high efficiency. One of them is elephant grass which i 1999 was recommended as a “novel energy crop that deserves serious investigation” by the Oak Ridge Laboratories for the American Ministry of Energy. Yet most of America’s biofuels come from maize, while Europe uses rapeseed oil that is considered qgually bad in terms of greenhouse gas emission.
Still change should be possible, as the most important source is found outside our windows. Stephen Long nailed it: “There is a big offset from biofuels, we can grow plants now”.
By Rasmus Steen