Ecologically Sustainable Bioenergy Cropping Systems

Species Selection and Habitat Considerations

Authored by: Christopher R. Webster , David Flaspohler , Steve Pawson , Eckehard Brockerhoff

Handbook of Bioenergy Crop Plants

Print publication date:  March  2012
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439816844
eBook ISBN: 9781315099255
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/b11711-8

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Abstract

Bioenergy at its most fundamental level is about burning the accumulated proceeds of photosyn-thesis. Fossil bioenergy, in the form of coal, fueled the early industrial revolution and today, along with oil, sustains contemporary human civilization. In the early 20th century, these concentrated and conveniently packaged fossil fuels largely replaced wood, tallow, and dung as sources of heat and animal traction as a source of power; 200 years ago, 20% of U.S. agricultural land was devoted to growing “fuel” to feed livestock (Sexton et al. 2007). Today, many in the world recognize the many environmental, geopolitical, and economic costs of fossil fuel dependence, and the growing immediacy of the exhaustion of our fossil fuel reserves. As a result of this recognition, we find ourselves reconsidering bioenergy, primarily from living plants, as a partial solution to these problems. Despite the recent attention paid to liquid biofuels, all biomass allocated to energy worldwide currently represents only approximately 10% of the total of 11,410 million tons of oil equivalent used per annum (IEA 2007).

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