The adoption of biodiesel and its integration within our society face a number of complex, interdependent or exclusive challenges. While there is, as yet, only a limited amount of comprehensively researched data available, many factors are changing in favour of biodiesel fuel. Just 10 years ago, widespread adoption of biodiesel as an alternative fuel mode seemed unlikely, but that situation is certainly changing fast.
We are learning very quickly how our reliance on traditional fossil fuels is likely to cause us great concern in the future. Greenhouse gases associated with the production of petroleum and our other energy needs are causing a highly detrimental change to our planet’s average temperature. Climate change is already leading to weather pattern alterations that could potentially cause devastating problems to future generations. We know that we must make changes and reduce our reliance on these traditional forms, yet to this point change has been slow to come. Challenges to the very way that we exist are difficult to contemplate and if we must make changes, we prefer to do it without incurring additional economic costs. It seems clear that to adopt alternative ways of producing and using energy will result in competitive disadvantage, if compared to communities or economies that do not.
If we’re slow to act, scientists and environmentalists tell us that harm could become irreversible. Consequently, governments are starting to consider taxation of carbon itself, forcing organisations through market pressures to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and increase their energy efficiency. For biodiesel fuel, this could help to balance the playing field. If traditional petroleum fuels become even more expensive due to carbon related costs, biodiesel will become more palatable.
Further to that, as society becomes increasingly more worried about climate change, it is likely to turn toward measures and solutions that are seen as being far “greener.” As such, even if biodiesel fuels represent a premium over other fuels and even if they are somewhat more difficult to locate, such a trend may nevertheless push for more adoption. Ways of making homemade biodiesel will be explored and commercial solutions will begin to spring up in more and more places.
Our agricultural producers have been worried about a decline in demand for their goods over the last many years. As biodiesel relies on vegetable oils or surplus oils and animal fats, crop producers could find a ready market for soybeans, for example providing the raw material essential for the production of the fuel. This in turn would help to keep revenues from the production and sale of fuel within our communities, rather than distributing these revenues overseas. By the 2020s, fully two thirds of the revenues associated with fuel purchase could be filtering its way to foreign countries, unless we’re careful.
As we enter the new decade it seems that more and more people and organisations are going to focus on the need to be sustainable. The biodiesel industry should ensure that it’s front and centre to this argument.