What are biofuels, and how could they contribute to sustainability?

Biofuels include any plant generated fuel. Usually the plant, such as corn, is not directly consumed but instead fermented to create ethanol. Ethanol is useful because of it is stored energy and can be transported. Other renewable energies including wind and solar are difficult to store. Thus ethanol plays a niche in the renewable energy portfolio.

Biofuels are net zero in carbon emissions. The plant sequesters carbon during its growing life and releases the same amount of carbon when consumed for fuel.

The disadvantages of biofuels stems from its relation to the food supply. Land previously used to create food supply is now re-purposed for fuel creation. Since corn for fuel rather than for food demands a higher price on the market, farmers would rather grow corn for fuel. This creates an unfavorable economic situation towards feeding the poor parts of the world.

Biofuels continue to be a debate in the renewable energy circle. However, unless storage methods can be found to harness solar and wind effectively, biofuels remains the only easily transportable and renewable energy source.