I found an excellent scientific article that suggests switchgrass as a form of cellulosic bioenergy crop. The study supports its suggestions with real data. Over 5 years, they conducted trials on 10 farms in the northern Great Plains to obtain field-scale production information in net energy and economic analysis. They found that farms in the east produced greater switchgrass biomass yields than farms in the western part of the study region. Throughout the article the authors presents many positive impacts switchgrass has on our environment. Switchgrass can be as net energy efficient as low-input systems, but can produce significantly greater quantities of energy per unit of land. Also, they recognize that moderate inputs of nitrogen fertilizer will be needed for the switchgrass to grow, however the addition of nitrogen to undisturbed and restored high-diversity prairies (which would be the ones they used in their study and the ones they recommend we use) has been shown to increase above ground biomass production.
The article also explains that an alternative transportation fuel should:
-have significant environmental benefits
– be economically competitive
– have the supplies necessary to meet the energy demands
– and have a positive NEV (output energy- input energy)
Overall, the results of this study show that switchgrass as a biomass energy crop produces 500% more renewable energy than energy consumed in its production. The studies graphs and figures are easily understood and highly support the suggestions of this study.
However, my question is this: We have learned SO many different methods of producing biofuel; some have been better than others, but they all have negatives and positives to them. Thus, how and when are we ever going to determine which is the best method? I suppose I should realize that biofuels are extremely new to the science world and we still have a significant amount of information missing.