Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Harvesting energy plants

Continual and expanded use of plant biomass for energy will require increased utilization of agriculturally derived materials, as well as further identification and development of the 300,000 or so productive and desirable plants. The investigation of the important aspects of successful, efficient and environmentally acceptable energy crop utilisation resulted in a helpful reference system.
Harvesting energy plants
With the depletion of resources for traditional energy types and an ever greater emphasis placed on non-nuclear energy modes, research into biomass as a viable energy source has gained excellent grounds over the years. One suitable form of alternative energy was found to be that of biomass crop production. These “energy crops” are plants grown specifically for use as a fuel. Although growing sources for energy dates back to the Mediaeval times in the form of wood, in their modern form energy crops are the most recent and innovative biomass fuel option. The variety of crops under production allows for some crops to be converted to liquid fuels, whilst others are fermented into alcohols that can be used as a petrol supplements. By producing viable crop loads suitable for energy use it is possible to minimise European reliance upon fossil fuels, petroleum and crude oils that prove so harmful for the environment.

Biomass crop cultivation provides the advantage that they can be grown to meet market demands. Because the project has learned to identify those crops most suitable, they can be grown according to demand and have the added bonus of being impervious to extraneous influences such as the weather. In these respects they resemble the fossil fuels on which the current energy infrastructure is based.

However, since crop energy cultivation is relatively new to the industry, a reference system was needed to ensure maximised, effective us of such crops. The reference system, compiled by ZRUE of Germany investigates integrating the parameters affecting successful utilisation of energy crops such as cultivation methods, harvesting and transportation, pelletising, storage, gasifier/engine power generation and utilisation of the energy in great detail is quite important for potential suppliers and users. It is, moreover, a useful tool to help evaluate biomass systems, and to recognise the technical and economic requirements for viability, with the latest cultivation techniques, harvesting methods and logistic concepts for transportation and storage of biomass.

As such, the reference, like all such informative guides, will provide the industry of energy production as well as energy consumers and moreover prove invaluably informative to all.

Related information

Record Number: 80415 / Last updated on: 2005-09-18
Domain: Energy