Chapter

Biofuels, Solar and Wind as Renewable Energy Systems

pp 395-423

Developing Energy Crops for Thermal Applications: Optimizing Fuel Quality, Energy Security and GHG Mitigation

  • Roger SamsonAffiliated withResource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP) – Canada, Box 125 Centennial Centre CCB13
  • , Claudia Ho LemAffiliated withResource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP) – Canada, Box 125 Centennial Centre CCB13
  • , Stephanie Bailey StamlerAffiliated withResource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP) – Canada, Box 125 Centennial Centre CCB13
  • , Jeroen DooperAffiliated withResource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP) – Canada, Box 125 Centennial Centre CCB13

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Abstract

Unprecedented opportunities for biofuel development are occurring as a result of increasing energy security concerns and the need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This chapter analyzes the potential of growing energy crops for thermal energy applications, making a case-study comparison of bioheat, biogas and liquid biofuel production from energy crops in Ontario. Switchgrass pellets for bioheat and corn silage biogas were the most efficient strategies found for displacing imported fossil fuels, producing 142 and 123 GJ/ha respectively of net energy gain. Corn ethanol, soybean biodiesel and switchgrass cellulosic ethanol produced net energy gains of 16, 11 and 53 GJ/ha, respectively. Bioheat also proved the most efficient means to reduce GHG emissions. Switchgrass pellets were found to offset 86–91% of emissions compared with using coal, heating oil, natural gas or liquid natural gas (LNG). Each hectare of land used for production of switchgrass pellets could offset 7.6–13.1 tonnes of CO2 annually. In contrast, soybean biodiesel, corn ethanol and switchgrass cellulosic ethanol could offset 0.9, 1.5 and 5.2 tonnes of CO2/ha, respectively.