Energy obtained from decomposing living material like plants, animal waste and wood is called bioenergy. Before the discovery of oil in the 19th century, agricultural waste was the primary source of energy. However, today with depleting fossil fuel reserves and global climatic changes as a result of emission of carbon dioxide, has raised focus on exploiting renewable energy sources such as energy crops to yield biomass and biofuels to reduce the consumption and dependence on fossil fuels for energy.
Bioenergy crops are grown in marginal soils to yield energy producing multitude of biomass. This energy, generated from biological material, reduces the consumption of fossil fuels. The most common energy yielding bioenergy crops today, are corn and sugarcane. Two distinct forms of energy can be produced from these bioenergy crops, that is biomass and biofuels.
Bioenergy crops serves as reserve of solar and thermochemical energy that is sustainable and not a threat for the climate. Biomass and biofuel are used for combustion and powering the vehicles. Apart from serving as energy reserve, this renewable energy source is also beneficial for the economy and the environment. At present, the most abundantly occurring and diverse energy source in the world is biomass.
A number of countries are profiting from bioenergy crops by producing electricity, heat energy and fuel from bioenergy crops. Energy crops cultivation on a large scale has positive effects on the ecosystem and promotes biodiversity. However, oftentimes these energy crops compete with the food crop for nutrients, lands and water, but this facet cannot overweigh the positive aspects of energy crops.
Bioenergy crops serves as an alternate energy source and also eliminates the pollution by absorbing pesticides and fertilizers from the land, which can pollute the underground water reservoirs. Researches have proven that bioenergy crops increases the stability of soil and restores moisture in the soil.
Furthermore, it is low maintenance and restores environment by reducing levels of carbon dioxide gas in the air that is released from fossil fuel combustion, and is the primary factor disrupting the world’s climate. By promoting sequestration of carbon dioxide gas in environment, these crops are playing a substantial role in restoring the disrupted ecosystem on this planet.
Keywords: bioenergy crops, fuel, biomass