Early efforts in energy crops (bioethanol and biodiesel, for example) showed the need for much greater efforts in research as they had little or no improvement on CO2 levels, in some cases, actually producing more damaging pollution than the oil-based fuels they were to replace.
A new champion was required – step forward the 2nd generation of energy crops: Willow, Poplar and Miscanthus. These fast growing crops have been shown to have huge potential, not only in their energy release, but also in their immediate environment impacts.
What could be more natural than a plantation of trees, providing new habitats for small mammals and full of insects and birds?
SRC Willow, when strategically planted, has numerous beneficial effects on flooding. Read more here.
This is a complex subject, but when you consider that burning fossil fuels releases carbon that was stored millions of years ago, the argument for energy crops is clear – carefully managed, they can release less carbon than they store in the ground.