PERIODICA POLYTECHNICA SER. SOC. MAN. SCI. VOL. 10, NO. 1, PP. 95–116 (2002)
ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION OF BIOFUELS
Department of Environmental Economics
Budapest University of Technology and Economics
H–1111 Budapest, Stoczek str. 2, Hungary
Fax: 36/1-463-1149, Phone: 36/1-463-1941
Received: September 19, 2001
One of today’s most important environmental issues is the pollution caused by traffic and transport.
There is no doubt that engine emissions, particularly from cars and trucks, have been linked with se-
vere damages to the environment and human health. The substitution of conventional fuels (gasoline,
diesel) by biofuels is considered to be a potential way to reduce pollution and support sustainable
agriculture. The two most common biofuels are biodiesel and ethanol. The use of biofuels is con-
sidered to be environmentally friendly. The production of biofuels, however, might cause pollution.
Life-cycle assessment is the scientific evaluation method to investigate the net environmental impacts
of biofuels. By means of this method it is possible to determine whether the use of biofuels or the
use of conventional fuels trigger more pollution to the environment. Biofuel policy might capitalize
on the production of biofuels supporting rural economic development and sustainable agriculture.
Keywords: biofuel, biodiesel, ethanol, life-cycle assessment (LCA), sustainable agriculture.
The reserves – known and affordable supplies of a nonrenewable resource such
as oil – are considered economically depleted when 80% of the supply has been
used; the remaining 20% is considered too expensive to extract. Oil’s fatal flaw
is that its reserves may be 80% depleted within 35–84 years, depending on how
rapidly it is used. At the current rate of consumption, global oil reserves will last
at least 44 years. Undiscovered oil that is thought to exist might last another 20–40
years. Instead of remaining at the current level, however, global oil consumption is
projected to increase by about 25