navitron
 
Renewable Energy and Sustainability Forum
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Anyone wishing to register as a new member on the forum is strongly recommended to use a "proper" email address - following recent spam/hack attempts on the forum, all security is set to "high", and "disposable" email addresses like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail tend to be viewed with suspicion, and the application rejected if there is any doubt whatsoever
 
Recent Articles: Navitron Partners With Solax to Help Create A More Sustainable Future | Navitron Calls for Increased Carbon Footprint Reduction In Light of Earth Overshoot Day | A plea from The David School - Issue 18
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Which Fuel Crops are best?  (Read 16000 times)
Ivan
Guest
« on: January 03, 2008, 10:44:31 PM »

This topic was suggested by Billi, but I thought it worthy of it's own category, as it's one of the potentially most important areas of sustainability and also potentially the area where we are likely to make the biggest mistakes.


The question is - which fuel crops are worth growing and which are not?

Production of ethanol from wheat is one good example of a contentious crop! So the question leads on as to which crops we should encourage and which we should encourage farmers to steer clear of. The issue is not straightforward. With many things we can compare the economical prices and costs and get a fair comparison, but in this case it is confused by 1)low cost of commercial energy, red diesel etc  2)Agricultural Subsidies and benefits  3)heavy taxation of conventional end-user fuels (eg vehicle fuels) 4)over-dependance on fossil fuels in the production of the crop.

I don't want to prejudice the discussion any further with my own views, so I'll wait until a few others have had chance before I go any further!!

Logged
KenB
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2694


Energy Self Enlightenment


WWW
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2008, 11:24:11 PM »

Ivan, List,


In the UK and northern Europe, ethanol from sugar beet may have a net positive energy balance - that's always a good start !  Grin

British Sugar seem to think so anyway.


Ken
Logged
dhaslam
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6775



« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2008, 11:24:59 PM »

I would have thought that sugar beet is best.     Beet piulp is a valuable by product and its market value is  about the same as  raw beet.     The crop yield is good in low temperatures so it is suitable for north European countries.   It has two downsides, energy used for production and crop rotation period of about six years.   

www.esru.strath.ac.uk/EandE/Web_sites/02-03/biofuels/quant_bioethanol.htm 
Logged

DHW 250 litre cylinder  60 X 47mm tubes
Heating  180,000 litre straw insulated seasonal store, 90X58mm tubes + 7 sqm flat collectors, 1 kW VAWT, 3 kW heatpump plus Walltherm gasifying stove
Shay
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 434


« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2008, 12:24:46 AM »

Personally I think that all potential biomass crops should be used in conjunction with municipal sewerage, food waste and or animal wastes and slurries to produce biogas for CHP and transport fuel.

Grass could be used in combination with other wastes to produce biogas. Taking Ireland as an example (with UK with more or less the same farming practises and climate) both have a high knowledge base and experience with grass production.

If 5% of the land (Ireland) used for hay and silage production was used to produce grass for anaerobic digestion the biogas energy potential from the grass feedstock alone could exceed the energy equivalent of approximately 262 million m3 of natural gas. (Bio-energy-opportunities for agriculture, industry and waste management August 2006 Discussion Paper EPA)

2044 ktoe of natural gas was used for electricity production in 2005. The theoretical biogas produced above would displace approximately 12% of this figure.

Extrapolating further, if 42% (0.891 million hectares approx.) of the land used for hay and silage was used to produce the grass feedstock component then all natural gas used for electrical production could be substituted.
Logged
billi
Global Moderator
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8923



WWW
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2008, 10:34:34 PM »

hi there

i think the most important part is.... to not get confused

 as far as statistics say  per hectar of land you can produce three times the amount of energy of biogas then rapeseed oil.....

but what does that mean or how are stastistics made...

for biogas you can use the whole crop for oil only the seed... the rest is feed for us and animals that can be biogas after....

i really donot know what statistics are based on what truth....., if they are  calculated on costs per hectar to harvest , costs per hectar for pesticides, or profit per hectar, machinery input etc

i have in the end no idea how statistics  are made  and calculated and it will not be enough to feed and drive the planet ,but  better this way for a while then the other old ending road






Logged

1.6 kw and 2.4 kw   PV array  , Outback MX 60 and FM80 charge controller  ,24 volt 1600 AH Battery ,6 Kw Victron inverter charger, 1.1 kw high head hydro turbine as a back up generator , 5 kw woodburner, 36 solar tubes with 360 l water tank, 1.6 kw  windturbine
Gary T
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 89


« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2008, 11:27:58 AM »

Depends what you are thinking of as fuel, if you are interested in liquid fuel, then I do not think available crops are particularly suited to dedicated fuel production, as net fuel production after fertilizer and other imputs are taken into account may be low. (Use of crop by-products is a different matter). A further complication is that bio-fuels may compromise the ability of the world's poor to feed themselves by pushing up the price of staple foods. In the future, Algae grown in bio-reactors enriched with heat and CO2 given off by fossil fueled power stations look like they may be able to capture a significant proportion of emitted carbob as well as offering a signifiant contribution of fuel.

If you are looking at heat, then crops like coppiced mixed woodland - with a large proportion of willow and poplar can improve habitat as well as providing sustainable heating fuel. In other areas, reeds or miscanthus grass may be more suitable. These as with forrestry residues, cab be chipped and included as a proportion of biomass in coal fired power stations.
Logged
billi
Global Moderator
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8923



WWW
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2008, 01:22:38 PM »

Hi 

i found that diagramm in a leading german magazine  the orange writing is my bad english



* oil and bread.jpg (80.44 KB, 935x354 - viewed 605 times.)
Logged

1.6 kw and 2.4 kw   PV array  , Outback MX 60 and FM80 charge controller  ,24 volt 1600 AH Battery ,6 Kw Victron inverter charger, 1.1 kw high head hydro turbine as a back up generator , 5 kw woodburner, 36 solar tubes with 360 l water tank, 1.6 kw  windturbine
Ivan
Guest
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2008, 09:05:41 PM »

That's a very interesting magazine article - thanks for posting it. I always thought that being vegetarian is more efficient in energy terms. However, at least cows don't drive round in tractors to harvest their crop!! If everyone was vegetarian, then we'd have 10x as much food available. That's quite an interesting statistic for those who argue against energy crops.


Ivan
Logged
NickW
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1780


« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2008, 09:15:48 PM »

Ivan, List,


In the UK and northern Europe, ethanol from sugar beet may have a net positive energy balance - that's always a good start !  Grin

British Sugar seem to think so anyway.


Ken

I suspect tied in with the production of sugar the economics are favourable. At Wissington, Norfolk Brit Sugars biggest factory they have an ethanol plant and a CHP plant. I understand the ethanol is produced from sucrose in the tailings with have lower value anyway.

Stand alone ethanol plant without subsidy is a chocolate teapot I suspect.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2008, 09:18:42 PM by NickW » Logged

Ask Questions, look for evidence, think for yourself

Gold is the currency of Kings, Silver the Currency of Gentlemen. Barter is the Currency of Peasants, whilst DEBT is the currency of SLAVES
NickW
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1780


« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2008, 09:21:08 PM »

Hi 

i found that diagramm in a leading german magazine  the orange writing is my bad english



Theres an interesting dilemma for our US cousins Meat or Petrol?
Logged

Ask Questions, look for evidence, think for yourself

Gold is the currency of Kings, Silver the Currency of Gentlemen. Barter is the Currency of Peasants, whilst DEBT is the currency of SLAVES
KenB
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2694


Energy Self Enlightenment


WWW
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2008, 09:37:33 PM »

Quote
Theres an interesting dilemma for our US cousins Meat or Petrol?

If they cut back by 50% on both fronts, they might be closer to European standards.  Angry


Ken

Logged
NickW
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1780


« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2008, 12:15:46 PM »

Which Fuel Crops are best?
Only those that are a waste product - ie WVO, sugar beet refining tailings, damaged wheat / barley etc.

Otherwise biofuels are just part of Bush's, Bliars, Browns war on the poor.

Want to help promote malnutrition / death in 3rd world countries & rain forest destruction- fill up with virgin oils / bioethanol produced from food stocks.

Logged

Ask Questions, look for evidence, think for yourself

Gold is the currency of Kings, Silver the Currency of Gentlemen. Barter is the Currency of Peasants, whilst DEBT is the currency of SLAVES
Paulh_Boats
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2824



WWW
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2008, 01:18:59 PM »

Possibly all fuel crops are BAD!


Bio-crops use a huge amount of fertiliser. A key ingrediant for fertilisers is natural gas!!

So "bio-fuel" is not as carbon-neutral as you think.

Also huge amounts of grain and corn are being diverted globally to bio-fuel production and as a result global grain supplies are at their lowest since 1970s. That shortage of grain for food has caused grain prices to double last year..... in effect grain and oil prices are being linked together. This is bad news for the developing world and your wallet.

Therefore, some greenies think bio-fuels are a complete whitewash.


My solution - on yer bike!

-Paul

Logged

30 tube thermal,
2.3kW PV see:
http://www.solarmanpv.com/portal/Terminal/TerminalMain.aspx?come=Public&pid=17067

LED lighting in every room
NO tumble dryer, +370 kWh per year
Ivan
Guest
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2008, 02:25:06 AM »

I agree, many biofuel crops are not very energy-efficient (some are really bad!), but some are reasonably efficient. There is a lot of unfarmed land, so energy crops don't necessarily displace food.

Yes, feeding everyone is an important issue, but if we don't have any energy (let's face it, we're going to run into problems very shortly as fossil fuel sources dry up), we won't be able to farm, as we won't have the energy to do so - at least not on the same scale. So some forms of biofuel energy will be essential - if only to enable tractors, fertilisers etc necessary to maintain food production at whatever level is possible. If we flatly refute all biofuels, we're in for a nasty surprise in a decade or two!

Over-population is another problem and another issue. One of the reasons that we can maintain a very over-populated planet is the amount of energy, fertiliser, pesticides etc that we pump in to make each acre produce massively more than we could do so organically. Yes, there are starving people, but without this energy input, there'd be a lot more. I read somewhere that the American defence budget for one day would feed all the starving people on the planet for one year - something else that should be corrected....
Logged
Bob
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 430


WWW
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2008, 07:03:13 AM »

Paul, I tend to agree that pretty much all the energy crops are bad.  Very few of their propagandists ever seem to consider the enormous fertiliser/herbicide/pesticide impact they will have.  Not to mention the increase in food prices which will, as you said, impact on the poor.

I try to grow things for a living.  I hope I have learned a little bit about growing things.  Before we can get food or energy from plants the plants need food.  Soil which has plants removed from it all the time (unlike the "natural" cycle of death and decomposition in the same place) requires external inputs if we are not to exhaust it, and that's not just nitrogen.

Current world agriculture only survives on the back of the petro-chemical industrial base.  To create something that is truly sustainable we have to step outside of that dependency.  If we do not then we simply swop a current problem for a future one, and one that will not take very long to bite us.



Logged

It's not what you make, it's what you use that counts!
Pages: [1] 2 3   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums
Simple Audio Video Embedder
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!