Energy sources play a vital role to perpetuate
modern life on earth. In the current global scenario, non-renewables are the
primary source of energy in the form of electricity, cooking, and
transportation fuel. These resources have created a burden on the environment,
such as climate change, global warming, biodiversity loss, ozone layer
depletion, and a rise in sea level. Also, it is the fact that energy demand is
increasing every year, which will soon lead to the energy crisis due to the
depletion of fossil fuel sources. As an alternative, bioenergy and biofuels are
renewable energy sources which are one of the potential, affordable, and
environmentally friendly green energy for a sustainable future.
Bioenergy is sustainable and has great
potential to reduce conventional fossil fuels use. Theoretically, it is
considered as environmentally friendly as the carbon dioxide produced during
the utilization of bioenergy is taken up by the newly cultivated plants as a
carbon source. It can be used as heat energy, electricity, transportation
fuels, and cooking gas.
Global Scenario of Bioenergy and biofuels
Bioenergy and Biofuels are the emerging energy
source in Europe. Therefore, many European countries, such as German, Denmark,
Sweden, and Austria have already emphasized the development of bioenergy. It
has already been replacing fossil fuels and nuclear plants significantly in
Europe and some other parts of the world. It can make a significant impact on
global sustainable energy systems. Many renewable energy companies focus on
research and development of bioenergy. At the same time, companies are creating
a significant number of green energy jobs at all levels.
According to IEA (2020), approximately, bioenergy contributes approximately
one-tenth of the global total primary energy supply. Direct combustion of solid
biomass is the predominant method to produce energy in the form of heat.
However, the modern form of bioenergy excludes the traditional biomass use as
practised in many developing countries. Also, many industries use solid biomass
to generate electricity on a large scale.
Sources of Bioenergy and Biofuels
Biomass is the source of bioenergy and
biofuels, which includes all the non-fossil organic materials such as all
carbon-containing energy forms and land and water-based plants and organisms. It
is primarily generated from non-edible plant biomass such as lignocellulosic
biomass and primary agricultural products, such as maize, sugarcane, rapeseed,
and sunflower. The other sources of biomass are derived from algae, forestry
residues, animal waste, pulp and paper mill waste, garbage, and household waste
from the kitchen, animal fats, crops, and so on. Most of the bioenergy sources
are locally available and therefore, can facilitate the demand of the consumers
Types of Bioenergy and Biofuels
Bioenergy and Biofuels are in the forms of solid, liquid, and
gas; the production and utilization of which have been increased extensively
over the last decades. The solid forms include
firewood, charcoal, and pellets as the energy source. Similarly, biofuels
are produced mainly as bioethanol and biodiesel in the liquid forms; while
biogas and syngas are the gaseous forms of biofuels.
There are four types of biofuels depending upon the types of
biomass. The first-generation biofuels are produced from food crops and other
food biomass, such as sugarcane, vegetable oil animal fats, and corn.
Lignocellulosic biomass such as agricultural residue is utilized to generate
second-generation biofuel. Similarly, the third generation biofuels are
produced from marine algal biomass; while the fourth generation includes the
genetically modified plant and microbial biomass to produce biofuels.
Applications of Bioenergy and Biofuels
Biofuels are viable replacements to petroleum
or transportation fuels in the current situation as it can be used in existing
combustion engines without modification. These sources of energy can be
produced commercially, and it is also affordable to switch from traditional
energy to bioenergy. Bioenergy can be promising for energy security with
suitable agricultural conditions.
The sources of bioenergy are sustainable and
reliable in comparison to fossil fuel as crops can be replenished by
cultivating every year. In contrast, fossil fuel requires millions of years to
form, which is almost impossible to replete the demands of energy sources every
year. Biofuels are new norms to replace traditional fuels; for instance,
biodiesel can be used in place of gasoline and diesel to run the
transportation, bio-jet fuels can replace conventional jet fuels successfully.
Similarly, bioethanol can be used as a mixture of
gasoline to run the vehicle or solely as a replacement for gasoline as well. Molasses,
a byproduct that forms when sugarcane converts to sugar, is a good source for
Biofuels not only replenish the energy sources
but also provide enumerable employment opportunities in the agricultural field.
It will also improve the lifecycle of energy supply and gentrify the area which
will help to enhance the lifestyles and economy of the local people. With
proper management, the bioenergy sources do not harm rainforest and
biodiversity because it is cultivated locally in a particular region.
Negative consequences of Bioenergy and Biofuels
It is said that “Every coin has two sides”,
biofuels can also have significant cons along with pros. Despite knowing tons
of significance of bioenergy still, some criticism has been roaming around the
globe such as food security, land use, rainforest conservation, biodiversity
conservation, and affordability. Also, it has created some questions regarding the
costs and efficiency of its initiation and running. However, it is convenient
and equally efficient as other sources of energy. These criticisms are futile
because the food will always be the priority. However, the production of third
and fourth generation biofuels will increase in the future.
For this, the governments should make
appropriate policies to balance the food supply chain and ecosystem. Still, it
all depends on how we plan the energy production and utilization. So, it is crucial
to make specific policies and certifications regarding power generation and use
without harming the quotidian life of humans, animals, and plants: overall, the
The use of traditional biomass energy has led
to emerging circumstances that are most hazardous to human health, among which
air pollution is the one with awful repercussions. The most immediate measure
to mitigate air pollution and its negative effect is by adopting modern
bioenergy and biofuels, including other renewable energy sources, such as solar
and wind energy. Due to abrupt climate change, hundreds of thousands of species
have undergone extinction and thousands of which are still vulnerable to the
threat. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to replace all the traditional
biomass usage as an energy source along with fossil fuels by renewable energy
including modern bioenergy and biofuels to fulfil the United Nations
Sustainable development goals seven, i.e., clean and affordable energy for all.
To end this all, we have to ponder upon the new
feasible and righteous ways, where bioenergy is an effective solution. The
production and utilization of biofuels not only increases energy security, farm
income, and jobs but also reduces greenhouse emissions and other harm to the environment.
Bioenergy and biofuels can make a significant environmental and socio-economic
impact. Thus, the effective production methods and utilization process of
bioenergy will contribute to the development of a sustainable future. For this,
it is imperative to make proper plans and policies and their suitable
implementations around the globe.