Standard Article

Biofuel Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

Agricultural Water

  1. Lucas Reijnders

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.aw1509

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Reijnders, L. 2005. Biofuel Alternatives to Fossil Fuels. Water Encyclopedia. 3:545–549.

Author Information

  1. Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


There is increased advocacy for replacing fossil fuels by biofuels by using advanced conversion technology. Increased use of biofuels has direct and indirect effects on water. Indirect effects are mediated by the impact of biofuels on climate. Specific biofuels may be linked to quite different inputs of fossil fuels, and effects on biogenic carbon stocks and are not necessarily “climate neutral.” Availability of water may be a limiting factor in biofuel production, making water efficiency an important matter. Peak flows, storm flows, and groundwater levels may be influenced by biofuel crops. The biofuel life cycle may mobilize large amounts of substances that may impact water. Biofuel crop production may be associated with silting, downstream channel instability, and increased concentrations of minerals and plant nutrients in surface water. Biofuel life cycle emissions of acidifying substances, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, and other hazardous elements may be significant. There are measures to limit the impact of substances mobilized during the biofuel life cycle.


  • biofuel;
  • climate;
  • water availability;
  • silting;
  • emissions