The environmental benefits of cellulosic energy crops at a landscape scale
The environmental benefits of cellulosic energy crops at a landscape scale The objective of this paper is to present a broad overview of the potential environmental impacts of biomass energy from energy crops--particularly the cellulosic energy crops current under development. For this discussion, the term energy crop refers to a crop grown primarily to create feedstock for either making biofuels such as ethanol or burning in a heat or electricity generation facility. Cellulosic energy crops are designed to be used in cellulose-based ethanol conversion processes (as opposed to starch or sugar-based ethanol conversion processes). As more cellulose can be produced per hectare of land than can sugar or starch, the cellulose-based ethanol conversion process is a more efficient sue of land for ethanol production. Assessing the environmental impacts of biomass energy from energy crops is complex because the environmental impact of using biomass for energy must be considered in the context of alternative energy options while the environmental impact of producing biomass from energy crops must be considered in the context of alternative land-uses. Using biomass-derived energy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions or increase them; growing biomass energy crops can enhance soil fertility or degrade it. Without knowing the context of the biomass energy, one can say little about its specific more »
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