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Giuliano Grassi
Pietro Moneada P. C.
Henri Zibetto
Tommaso Guicciardini
September 1992 SWEET
SORGHUM Document prepared on
behalf of the Commission
of the European Communities
by Tommaso Guicciardini
Layout: Leonardo Baglioni
Cover photographs: Tommaso Guicciardini
Primed by Mani Fotolito
EUR - 14684 - EN
Neither the Commission of the
European Communities nor any person
acting on behalf of the Commission is
responsible for the use which miglu be
made of the information contained herein.
Giuliano Grassi - GE. C. Brussels
Pietro Moneada P. C. - GE. G. Brussels
Henri Zibetto -EAC Consult -K
Tommaso Guicciardini
September 1992 jtf&lt ¿m*
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* tó% Preface
Biomass can be considered as a commodities which can match local Other environmental benefits from
strategic resource because not only is market situations. Its importance in biomass production can be included
it renewable, but it is abo available this regard has been demonstrated such as the retention of the rural
everywhere and can provide by the Biomass research and landscape which could have been
products of vital interest to sectors of development activities of the adversely affected by abandoned
strong external dependance (i.e. fuel Commission of the European land, by forest fires, by soil erosion,
for transportation, electricity, Communities (DG XII). There seems, etc. These problems could be
chemicals etc.), and also because it therefore, to be a large potential for alleviated by better land
may raise benefits for the the production and utilisation management using low input non­
environment and for socio-economic (including energy production) of food crops which can also grow on
development, (particularly in a specific crops in different European marginal land.
rural areas). conditions. In general, energy / industrial crops
Meanwhile, the European need less pesticides especially during
Biomass offers the opportunity to Community imports nearly 53 % of the ripening phase.
develop integrated schemes from its primary energy requirements. Manpower costs accounts for 50-
primary production through Moreover, the largest oil reserves are 60% of the final production cost for
conversion to high quality added found in geopolitically unstable bio-energy. Therefore based on
value energy and industrial areas such as the Middle East preliminary studies of biomass
product1,·, and subsequently to their (54%), Russia (12%), Mexico (9%). activities, more than 600,000 new
utilisation. For reasons related to energy supply jobs could be created in the E. C. in
security, it seems therefore that the medium-term for the bio-energy
However, full biomass systems can alternative supplies could be sector alone.
present considerable complexity in provided from biomass, using This partial diversification of
terms of multidisciplinarily and energy crops like Sorghum. conventional agriculture towards
integration. The complexity derives new energy and industrial markets
also from a combination of factors Indeed Sorghum is a very interesting could help to improve the socio­
which are not only techno-econonuc annual crop, perhaps more economic conditions of less developed
but include the environment, the promising than other potential areas of Europe and to improve and
agricultural socio-economy crops: it is adaptable to European preserve the rural landscape.
industrial structure and policies, climatic conditions, does not need
and rural regional development, much fertiliser, pesticides or The Authors
international trade. Sweet Sorghum. irrigation, has high photosynthetic September 1992
which can be grown in different efficiency (about 2-3%), high
climatic conditions, has been productivity and offers the
identified as the first promising crop possibility of a wide spectrum of
with tlie potential to provide a inde commodities (starch, sugars,
spectrum of energy and industrial ethanol, activated charcoal,
compost, pulp for paper, structural
materials, etc.).
There are also environmental
benefits from using technologies
which are environmentally friendly
for industrial and chemical
commodities. These include a
reduction in the greenhouse effect
which is largely due to the use of
fossil fuels and derived products.
Biomass could produce alternative
products at a lower environmental
cost. Indeed, modern bio-energy
technologies and bio-fuels produce
very little pollution if they are burnt
correctly and completely. Biomass
and derived bio-fuels liave very low
sulfur content, have a C02 balance
near to zero, and low N0t emission
Why is biomass important?
• Environmental benefit
• Energy contribution
• Contribution to industrial activity
• Diversification of agriculture
• Socio-economic contribution ENVIRONMENT
The environmental benefits of bio­ The most developed energy & indu­ The decrease in S02 emissions fin
themore will be accompanied by mass crops and biofuels mainly deal stry crops like Sweet Sorghum (C4
fall in the level of other motoi with gaseous emissions, namely plants) could provide 2-3 TOE (ton­
vehicle pollutant emissions: carbo C02, S02 and other greenhouse ga­ nes of oil equivalent) per hectare of
monoxide (CO), unburnt hydrocai ses. edianol every year from sugars and
bons (HC) and particulate emis Concerning C02, the concept of 6-9 TOE of fuel from bagasse. This
sions. energy and industry crops could corresponds to the absorption of 30
play a révélant role in an integrated to 45 tonnes of C02 per hectare and As for fossil fuels, the level of emis
scheme to reduce carbon emissions per year. sions will depend of the type c
and absorb atmospheric carbon dio­ The sulphur dioxide emissions resul­ combustion system and of its cor
xide through photosynthesis. ting from biofuels and biomass com­ trol.
During the combustion of a biofuel, bustion are very low compared with Modern technologies are availabl
C02 is released, making a closed fossil fuels (less than 0.01 percent in that can achieve sufficient reductio
cycle with C02 fixation by the plant. biofuels). This will avoid the utilisa­ of emissions by combustion contre
Globally it results in no net increase tion of complex desulfurisation pro­ and eventually catalytic post-treai
of CO., into the atmosphere. cesses which are now needed in ment.
fossil-fuelled power stations.

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