Biodiesel has come a long way since it first began as possible alternative to petroleum-based diesel fuel. Now in many countries, including the US, there are gas stations that offer it as just another option at the pump. If you happen to pass by one of these you may also notice that the fuel is actually a bit cheaper than regular diesel, making it soon to be a very effective competitor to gas companies in the future.
Aside form the low cost, biodiesel is renewable. Unlike fossil fuels, this petroleum alternative comes from plants and other organic matter that can be grown each year. Fossil fuels will eventually run out and so other choices for fuel need to be available. The US already produces a huge surplus of agricultural goods, so this fuel is a perfect substitute for gasoline. So running out of fuel is something people won’t have to worry about.
Alternative fuels also mean greater energy security. As much of our petroleum and other fuel resources come from across the world, transporting this fuel is expensive in itself, not to mention the possibility of an interruption in the supply chain due to any number of disasters. With fuel production based in the US, this isn’t a worry and it cuts down on the cost at the pump because each gallon used took a little less time making it to your local station. This also means greater economic security since our energy producers are all working here in the US. These are people growing the organic material, those refining it, and those moving it around the country. For a country with so much space to grow, it also means that the US can possibly again become an exporter of energy, improving our trade balance with the rest of the world.
Biodiesel is much better for the environment that traditional fuels. Though these fuels also release carbon dioxide, the farming involved in producing the fuel absorbs much of the excess emissions. Depending on farming practices, this production can improve the surrounding environment and make use of fallow land. This is one of the most hotly debated areas of discussion on alternative fuels and much still needs to be studied to determine the long-term effects.
Regardless, growing our fuel has changed the way energy, how it is controlled and managed, will be decided in the future. Furthermore, it is still an open market ripe for investment and innovation.