Bioengineering of Crops for Biofuels and Bioenergy

Ashwani Kumar

Energy Plantation Demonstration Project Center and Biotechnology Laboratory,

Department of Botany, University of Rajasthan,

Jaipur, 302004. India.

e-mail. msku4@hotmail.com


Biomass contributes a significant share of global primary energy consumption and its

importance is likely to increase in future world energy scenarios. Current biomass use,

although not sustainable in some cases, replaces fossil fuel consumption and results in

avoided CO

2 emissions, representing about 2.7 to 8.8 % of 1998 anthropogenic CO2

emissions. The global biomass energy potential is large, estimated at about 104 EJ/a. Hence,

biomass has the potential to avoid significant fossil fuel consumption, potentially between 17

and 36 % of the current level and CO

2 emissions potentially between 12 and 44 % of the

1998 level. Modern biomass energy use can contribute to controlling CO

2 emissions to the

atmosphere while fostering local and regional development. There is significant scope then to

integrate biomass energy with agriculture, forestry and climate change policies.

Further the advantages from utilization of biomass include: liquid fuels produced from

biomass contain no sulfur, thus avoiding SO

2 emissions and also reducing emission of N0x.

The production of compost as a soil conditioner avoids deterioration of soil. Improved

agronomic practices of well managed biomass plantations will also provide a basis for

environmental improvement by helping to stabilize certain soils, avoiding desertification

which is already occurring rapidly in tropical countries. The creation of new employment

opportunities within the community and particularly in rural areas will be one of the major

social benefits. The specific research work carried out in the areas of biomass production and

utilization in less fertile areas will provide satisfactory answers to the double challenge of

energy crisis and forced deforestation in the country and semi-arid and arid regions of

Rajasthan. The possibility of conversion of biomass into liquid fuels and electricity will make

it possible to supply part of the increasing demand for primary energy and thus reduce crude

petroleum imports which entail heavy expenditure on foreign exchange. The families

Euphorbiaceae (

Euphorbia antisyphilitica, E.tithymaloides, E. caducifolia E. royleana E.


tc. and Ascelpiadaceae ( Calotropis gigantea and C. procera ) which have been

worked out in previous years ( Kumar, 2000) will form the basis for further studies.


Worldwide energy consumption is projected to grow by 59 % over the next two decades,

according to International Energy Outlook 2001 (IEO 2001), released by theUS Energy