Chapter

Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems

pp 465-491

Biofuel Production in Italy and Europe: Benefits and Costs, in the Light of the Present European Union Biofuel Policy

  • Sergio UlgiatiAffiliated withDepartment of Sciences for the Environment, Parthenope University of Napoli
  • , Daniela RussiAffiliated withDepartment of Economics and Economic History, Autonomous University of Barcelona
  • , Marco RaugeiAffiliated withDepartment of Sciences for the Environment, Parthenope University of Napoli

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Abstract

We present and critically evaluate in this paper biofuel production options in Italy, in order to provide the reader with the order of magnitudes of the performance indicators involved. Also, we discuss biofuel viability and desirability at the European level, according to the recent EU regulations and energy policy decisions.

Fuels from biomass are most often proposed as substitutes for fossil fuels, in order to meet present and future shortages. Although the scientific literature on biofuel production techniques is abundant, comprehensive evaluations of large-scale biofuel production as a response to fossil energy depletion are few and controversial. The complexity of the assessments involved and the ideological biases in the research of both opponents and proponents of biofuel production make it difficult to weigh the contrasting information found in the literature. Moreover, the dubious validity of extrapolating results obtained at the level of an individual biofuel plant or farm to entire societies or ecosystems has rarely been addressed explicitly. After questioning the feasibility of a large-scale biofuels option based upon yields from case studies, we explore what are the constraints that affect the option even in the case of improved production performance.

Keywords

Biomass biofuels carbon dioxide emissions land requirement