Energy Crops in the World and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Energy Crops in the World and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Energy crops are crops that are used mainly for energy production. Large studies have been made in this sector in last 20 years and there is increasing demand for these crops. The main reason for usage of this crops is climate change and high emissions of CO2. Emissions of every biomass, including energy crops, are

Energy crops are crops that are used mainly for energy production. Large studies have been made in this sector in last 20 years and there is increasing demand for these crops. The main reason for usage of this crops is climate change and high emissions of CO2. Emissions of every biomass, including energy crops, are in life cycle zero. These crops are used to change coal and other fossil fuels as primary fuel in production of heat and electricity. You can read below main characteristics of some energy crops and which ones are used in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

According to the EU directive and the Council of Europe No. 2003/30/EC from 2003, according to the Article 2 biomass is defined as “the biodegradable parts of products, waste and residues from agriculture, forest waste and related industries as well as the biodegradable parts of industrial and municipal waste”. Thus, biomass consist of products of plant and animal origin and there is also included forest and timber industry residues, residues in agricultural production, food industry residues, waste etc. Agricultural biomass that can be used for energy production is different and can be divided into following groups:

1. Arable farming, where we include residues after the harvest of crops and energy crops

2. Livestock, where we include solid manure and slurry

3. Perennial crops (orchards, vineyards, olive groves) where we include branches and wood residues after regular maintenance

4. Primary production in agriculture (residues from wine production, residues from fruit processing, sugar production, wheat procession, oils production and other)

The story begins with the crop Miscantus x giganteus (elephant grass) that is now used worldwide. This perennial crop belongs to the family of grasses and it grows in Southeast Asia, China, Japan and some types of this crop are growing in Africa. This energy crop achieves excellent yield and it advantages are: simple cultivation and harvest, perennial plant, resistant to diseases and pests and it has very good dry matter yield and calorific value. Once it is planted, it renews every year from the rhizomes that stayed in the ground. The crop is planted in spring and on 1 ha (10,000 m2) is planted 10,000 rhizomes. This crop can reproduce itself and stays on one place for 20-25 years. Some experiments have showed that this crop thieves on low quality soils e.g. tailings, repaired dumps, so they can engage on non-agricultural land which is very important aspect due to the fact that we need agricultural land for food production.

At the first year the yield is low because crop is still developing, in the second year yield is 6-10 t/ha and after third year and later it reaches its maximum yield of 20-25 t/ha. According to professional literature Miscantus has calorific value of 17 MJ/kg and ash content 3.7%. The energy value of 20 tons of Miscantus is equivalent to the energy value of 8 tons of coal.

The next energy crop that is mentioned here is Salix (willow). These crops were originally grown in subtropical area, but later they spread out to temperate zone and Arctic regions. Today willows are commonly grown in north temperate regions (Europe, Asia and North America). Fast growing willows require soil which is rich with nutrients and organic matter. These crops also require light and water during growth. Lack of water in growing season can affect their height and reduce yield.

In this review we will mention Brassica sp. (oilseed rape). These crops are annual plants that can be spring and winter types. Winter forms are grown in moderate climate zones, while spring forms in northern and cold regions. The average yield is 2.5 t/ha. In addition to soy, sunflower and palm it is most important oil crop in the world. It is used in soap, paint, textiles, plastic, cosmetic and pharmaceutical production, and in recent years in biodiesel production. Biodiesel is environmentally friendly fuel and these crops are used for its production.

Table 1. Characteristics of energy crops

Crop Yield of
dry matter (t/ha)
Calorific
value MJ/kg
Amount of
energy per ha GJ/ha
Content of
moisture %
Ash
content mas.%
Straw 2 – 4 17 35 – 70 14,5 5
Miscantus 8 – 32 17,5 140 – 560 15 3,7
Hemp 10 – 18 16,8 170 – 300 n/a n/a
Willow 8 – 15 18,5 280 – 315 53 2,0
Poplar 9 – 16 18,7 170 – 300 49 1,5
Chervil 15 – 35 16,3 245 – 570 50 5
Canary
grass
6 – 12 16,3 100 – 130 13 4
Switch
grass
9 – 18 17 15 6
Acacia 5 – 10 19,5 100 – 200 35 n/a
Wood 3 – 5 18,7 74,8 50 1 – 1,5

In table 1 we can see main characteristics of energy crops. Calorific value of all these crops is going from 16 to 20 MJ/kg. Moisture content is low except for willow, poplar and straw.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina in recent years some steps have been made when it comes to production of biodiesel. We still cannot be satisfied with the use of Brassica sp. Because our biodiesel is made from used vegetable oils and fats which are recycled in Srbac, Tuzla. To evaluate the possibility of Miscantus to grow in Bosnia and Herzegovina there have been set couple of experimental fields in country. It is important that we started with some work in this field because we have big potential for biomass and we have to exploit it.

Renewable Energy Projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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