What are Energy Crop?

Energy crops are a type of biomass. Biomass is any organic matter which is available on a renewable basis through natural processes or as a by-product of human activity such as agricultural crops and crop residues, wood and wood waste, and portions of the municipal solid waste stream. Biomass is used to generate electricity, and to produce fuels and other consumer products.

KEY POINT: *Some Energy crops are grown specifically for use as fuel and offer high output per hectare with low inputs*

An energy crop is a plant grown as a low-cost and low-maintenance harvest used to make biofuels, such as bioethanol, or combusted for its energy content to generate electricity or heat. Energy crops are generally categorized as woody or herbaceous plants; many of the latter are grasses.

Some examples of energy crops are rapeseed, maize seed, soybean, castor seed, sesame, groundnut kernel, mustard seed, sun flower, palm fruit, and  grasses.Two leading non-food crops for the production of cellulosic bioethanol are switchgrass and giant miscanthus.


Energy crops can be used for a range of energy markets, for dedicated biomass power stations or co-firing at existing coal power stations.

On a smaller scale the crop can be burnt directly as chip (or bought pelletised) on farm to generate heat, qualifying under the Renewable Heat Initiative as it is now more widely densified into energy crop pellets for use in dedicated boilers at home or in business.

Energy crops can be used to generate electricity, and for the production of transportation fuels such as ethanol.

In electricity Generation, Energy crops could fuel a significant number of energy production facilities in the United States. According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, energy crops and crop residues could potentially generate the same amount of electricity generated by coal in the Midwest.

Another way energy crops can be used to generate electricity is in a steam boiler, which is the same process used to convert coal to electricity. Energy crops can be used alone or cofired with coal.