The amount of biomass from plants used for biofuel is highly dependable on their tolerance to drought. With climate warming at alarming rates, more and more scientists are urged to look for alternative species that can survive in areas, where irrigation is limited.
Nevertheless, large areas across the U.S. are still suitable for growing biofuel crops. One of these is the southern tier of the Southeast, where Napiergrass has been planted over the last years for the particular purpose of biofuel production.
Although it is considered an invasive species in Florida due to its habits to grow near sides of canals, clogging waterways, if managed properly, the benefits of this crop go beyond it use as a feedstock. Its roots can trap excess nutrients and act as an efficient filtration mechanism that can control runoff, while it can also be used to manage waste disposal produced by poultry farms, according to USDA.
The latter is particularly interesting, especially considering that legislators from eight poultry states have been urging EPA to lower prices of feed, due to the increasing amounts of corn being used for biofuel production. The officials demand that less corn is directed towards the renewable energy production sector, and higher allowances should be made for non-food biofuel crops.
However, the new POET Project Liberty cellulosic biofuel plant in Lowa, together with a number of biofuel trade associations are planning to start a campaign to keep the Renewable Fuel Standard unchanged. It is called “FuelsAmerica”, and firmly stands behind the fact that the standard already accounts for harvest-wrecking droughts and other unexpected possibilities, allowing refiners to reduce temporarily production of corn ethanol until the problem is solved.