Print publication date:
16 Dec 2010
2011 Print ISBN: 978-1-84973-032-7 PDF eISBN: 978-1-84973-204-8
The last few years have seen the concept of bioenergy and biofuels come of age. Rising oil prices have lead to more food crops being grown for energy as well as food. This has created controversy by adding to the upward pressure on crop commodity prices that was already being created by the increasing demand for food from an expanding population. More attention has, therefore, focussed on meeting the rising demand for bioenergy and biofuels in more sustainable ways. A wider range of crops is being explored, including non-food crops, as well as the use of crop residues rather than grain or seed. Energy Crops is a comprehensive reference source which looks at this topic from the plant and agricultural science perspective. It covers energy crops that are already in use and those that are being developed or researched. Species that have been cultivated by humankind for millennia, and some that have never been considered as crops before, fall within its coverage. The introductory chapter defines energy crops before reviewing the development and current state of the technology. It also gives an historical perspective and introduces the ethical issues. Each of the subsequent chapters is dedicated to a single crop and describes the current usage of that crop for energy, its potential for future development, the economics of its use for energy production, and the research that is being undertaken to tailor it for use as an energy crop. Where appropriate, the implications for food and feed security are balanced against the benefits in terms of fuel security, the impending oil supply 'peak', the need to reduce CO2 emissions, and the implications for climate change mitigation. Each chapter is written by a specialist author or authors of international standing. The chapters by representatives of the plant breeding and biofuel industries give an industrial perspective on why energy crops have 'come of age'. They also describe how the sector is expected to develop with a wish list of crop improvements that industry would like to see realized. These include higher levels of fermentable starch, cellulose, fibres and oil quality through to the production of pure hydrocarbons. The book is suitable for undergraduates, postgraduates, academics, and those working in industry.