First-generation or conventional biofuels are biofuels made from sugar, starch, and vegetable oil.
Second generation biofuels are biofuels produced from sustainable feedstock and other complex organic food sources.
Next generation biofuels, like Cellulosic Ethanol, Green Gasoline, Designer Hydrocarbons etc. are all biofuels that will not be extracted from direct food resources,
The primary driver for generation Biofuels is to reduce their impact on the food supply chain. Their influence is known to:
Push up basic food prices
Create shortages in the supply of food
Result in deforestation (Amazon) to make way for agricultural land
Use up more fresh drinking water
Additionally, first and second generation Biofuels are vulnerable to the climatic conditions. The 1990’s droughts in Brazil caused many problems for the supply of ethanol and due to their large dependence on it, were not able to change back to fossil fuels till the drought passed. This problem has been resolved at a great cost to that country
Finally, although the carbon emissions are lower than fossil fuels, they are still there. What is often forgotten is that biofuels produce different green house gas to fossil fuels, Nitrous Oxide.
Does this mean that Biofuels are a no-no? Certainly not! What it means is that we need to continue seeking other means of extracting energy, besides Fossil and Biofuels, fuels like Lithium Ion.