Bioengineering of Crops for Biofuels and Bioenergy
Energy Plantation Demonstration Project Center and Biotechnology Laboratory,
Department of Botany, University of Rajasthan,
Jaipur, 302004. India.
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 CO2 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 CO2 emissions potentially between 12 and 44 % of the
1998 level. Modern biomass energy use can contribute to controlling CO2 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 SO2 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.
neerifoliatc. 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