Today’s energy supply is largely based on fossil fuels and nuclear power. These resources have contributed to environmental disasters and due to uncertain availability fossil fuels are unsustainable and create instability.
We get the chance to reduce carbon emissions and provide a more diversified and balanced blend of natural sources by using renewable energy. One way to accomplish that is by growing crops with the only objective of using the harvested product as raw material to produce electricity or biofuels. However, the use of food crops such as corn and sugar cane for the production of bio-fuels has caused worldwide controversy.
Moving away from food crops, biomass energy has now become one of the most dynamic aspects of the energy arena and governments around the world are seeking to change regulatory structures encouraging the development of biomass to energy projects. Countries such as Australia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Germany, and Spain among others, have become important producers of bio-fuel in the international market. United States and Brazil remain to be the most important producers of ethanol from corn and sugar cane respectively. But what about non-food crops capable to produce energy? Over the years, researchers have developed certain crops that require minimum input and grow under soil and water conditions that other crops can’t. For this particular reason these energy crops don’t take arable land dedicated for food production. For WARM Global, the implementation of energy crops in developing countries is vital to promote sustainable development and fossil fuel independence.
Plants store the sun’s energy in their leaves, stems, roots, fruits and seeds. They can be annual or perennial and some of them can be cultivated to produce solid or liquid energy feedstocks. The organic residues and waste of all types of plant production such as sugar cane bagasse, do not fall under this term but nevertheless represent a large potential.
Some of the most popular energy crops currently used around the world are: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), Giant Reed (Arundo donax L.), Sweet Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor L. Moench), Poplar (Populus spp.) and Elephant Grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach) among others.