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Biofuels: The answer to climate change?

Posted: Feb 25, 2022 3 minute read GAR


What comes to your mind when you think of the Winter Olympics? Definitely, snow. And lots of it. But this year, as China geared up to host this coveted event, it had to deploy more than 100 snow generators and 300 snow-making machines so they could freeze around 49 million gallons of chemically-treated water to make fake snow. Researchers believe that with the worldwide climate change, countries like China are beginning to face a shortage of snowfall due to global warming. This shows the extent to which our choices have affected the environment. This year will go down in history as the first Winter Olympics to use 100 percent artificial snow. As ironical as it may sound while referring to global warming, this might be the tip of the iceberg.

Taking a cue from this, choosing to adopt renewable energy, including renewable fuels like biodiesel or biogas, can help address global warming and climate change and perhaps even protect future Winter Olympics from running out of snow!

What are biofuels made of?

Biofuels are created out of organic matter from plants or animals. The most commonly found biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel. When converted to energy, biofuels do not increase the net greenhouse gases (GHG), namely carbon dioxide. One might argue, though, that burning biofuels may cause an increase in the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. However, the carbon absorption through plants’ life cycle can counter this loss.

Are biofuels a popular choice?

At present, there is still a significant dependence on non-renewable energy sources such as oil and coal that emit large amounts of GHG, contributing to global warming and climate change. A majority of people still rely on non-renewable fuels for energy and transport. However, a growing number are exploring or making the switch to renewables.

Governments and policymakers encourage businesses to choose renewable fuels like biofuels over coal or other non-renewable fuels. The United States Regulation Agency offers economic incentives to support biofuel production. Its Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) encourages producers to make 36 billion gallons of biofuel by the end of the year.

global primary energy consumption
Graph showing the share of global primary energy consumption by source (Credit: Our World in Data)


Biofuel energy production
Biofuel energy production (Credit: Our World in Data)

What’s the flip side?

Biofuels have typically been looked at with scepticism for the part it presumably plays in the heightening of food insecurity. Many still believe that the increase in land used to grow non-food crops, as in the case of biofuels, will cause a simultaneous drop in the production of food crops. This will increase the cost of food and worsen the food insecurity issue among the less well-off. But there’s a logical solution to this issue. If we could ensure that the production levels of food crops weren’t affected adversely, then the cultivation of non-food crops could prove viable.

At Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), we harness biogas and biofuels from responsibly sourced crude palm oil (CPO). The waste gathered during palm oil production creates biogas, which powers our plants. Our biofuel plants in Jakarta and South Kalimantan produces over 600,000 tonnes of high-quality biofuel per annum.

Will we see a paradigm shift by 2050?

As part of the United Nation’s (UN’s) ongoing efforts to address climate change, the COP26 in Glasgow saw world leaders make some of the most substantial commitments yet, wean the world off its reliance on fossil fuels, and support renewable energy investment.

The COP26 commitments, combined with the need to deliver affordable, sustainable and clean energy for all embedded in SDG 7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, set the stage for biofuels and bioenergy to power our future.

But suppose things are left to go on as they are. Researchers predict that it is highly likely that by 2050 only 10 out of the 21 Winter Olympics venues will have the “climate suitability” and natural snowfall levels to host the touted event. It’s time we switched to biofuels.

As a conscientious agribusiness, we produce biofuel from responsibly sourced crude palm oil. Click here to read more about GAR’s role in powering a sustainable future.

If you would like to find out more about GAR’s efforts to combat climate change, read here.

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