we can get a significant amount of energy from land which is currently not being used, for minimal input and without disrupting the local wildlife too much or diverting land currently used for food.
Bioenergy receives a lot of attention as a fossil-fuel alternative. In principle, it’s a renewable resource, as well as being approximately carbon neutral (it neither adds nor removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, though this depends on the crop). Some popular types of bioenergy are ethanol derived from corn, sugar cane, switch grass, palm oil, as well as fast-growing trees like poplar and willow. These latter two are generally not made into liquid energy (i.e. they cannot be used to power automobiles), but in Europe they are gaining popularity in homes and industry when the wood is chipped and pressed into energy-dense pellets.
Bioenergy is not without its problems, however. Ethanol derived from corn diverts a food product into the energy sector, raising food prices. In the tropics, conversion of native forests to bioenergy plantations for palm oil is a significant driver for deforestation as well as indirect carbon…
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