You would have heard about coconut plantations, palm plantations, rubber plantations and the like.
But – energy plantations?
Well, ugh, are these some super natural plantations that guzzle out oil or gas?
Nothing remotely as fantastic.
Energy plantation is the term given to the growing of crops specifically meant to be used as fuel.
For instance, a farmer or an entrepreneur might be growing bamboo in tens of acres, specifically to be used as fuel for homes or for industrial heating/power generation.
One might ask why energy plantations are needed when there is a significant amount of crop waste already available.
The answer has to do with the following:
- While there are significant quantities of agro waste, not all such waste can be used in specific equipments such as boilers
- For some of the crop waste, their calorific value might not be high enough to make them attractive fuel choices
- Collecting and transporting agro waste from multiple, distributed sources can pose significant logistics and supply chain challenges
- For large scale users of biomass for energy generation, reliance on external sources for the main feedstock of their operations might not be optimal
For all the above reasons, energy crops and energy plantations are becoming popular world over.
While quite a few crops are candidates for energy plantations, one crop that I keep hearing about frequently is bamboo. The reasons are because it grows fast, and also because it can also be coppiced – a system in which you do not completely uproot the plant but cut the plant’s stem close to the ground, and it starts growing again.
For those of us who wish to see our farmers become fuel suppliers and get as wealthy as the Sheikhs of Arabia, energy plantations could be the answer. Not really, I am joking. An energy plantation is not a Become-a-Millionaire-Soon scheme, but it could really provide attractive returns to farmers, at least in certain regions of the world.