Can renewable energy power the world?
Can renewable energy power the world?

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Can renewable energy power the world?

4.4 Biomass energy from plants

Energy crops – plants grown specifically to provide bioenergy – have attracted increasing attention in recent years.

From Table 2, you’ll see that these plants can be categorised broadly according to the physical and chemical nature of the biomass involved.

Table 2 A broad generalized classification of primary bioenergy sources

Category Major energy-rich components Structural stength/resistance to natural decay Examples Typical yields of dry matter /t ha1 y1
Woody biomass Lignin/lignocellulose (complex carbohydrates) High Trees (deciduous or hardwoods) 10 (temperate) to 20 (tropics)
Cellulosic biomass Cellulose/lignocellulose (complex carbohydrates) Medium Grasses (e.g. miscanthus), water hyacinth, seaweeds 10 (temperate) 60 (tropical aquatics)
Starch/sugar crops Simpler carbohydrates Low Cereals (maize. sugar cane, wheat 10 (temperate cereals to 35 (sugar-cane)
Oily crops Lipids (i.e. oil/fats) Low Oilseeds (rape, sunflower, oil palm, jatropha) 8 to 15
Micro organisms Oil Low Microalgae Unkown - still speculative

These categories overlap to a considerable extent, so some crops may be grown primarily for their sugar or starch content but their supporting lignocellulosic (woody) structural materials may also be used for other purposes


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