Feeds

Most biofuels fail green test: study

Swiss research pours cold water on eco claims

Remote control for virtualized desktops

A Swiss study has reconfirmed a common criticism of the use of biofuels as a replacement for fossil fuels: often, the “green” alternative merely replaces one set of environmental problems with another.

The study, by Switzerland’s EMPA – the Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology – confirms results the organization presented in 2007: while most biofuels can claim to produce fewer greenhouse gases, the cost is “more growth-related pollution for land used for agriculture.”

These agricultural effects include soil acidification and waterway pollution from fertiliser runoff.

The new study – available here in French – takes into account the fuels and the production chains, and the agency says it uses a more extensive dataset than the previous assessment.

While ethanol-based biofuels can have a better “ecobalance” than petrol, it’s highly dependent on the production methods used, particularly if the production of biofuels involves changing land use. For example, if farmland is switched to biofuel production, the report finds, assessment of its ecological impacts needs to take the likely deforestation needed to create new agricultural areas.

With the right inputs, the study found, ethanol-based biofuels have a better ecological performance than those drawn from plant oils. Processes in which ethanol production uses agricultural waste as the feedstock – so long as that doesn’t involve using wastes that would otherwise have broken down in situ and replenished soil fertility. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.