An evaluation of the global potential of bioenergy production on degraded lands

20-09-2011 | Publication

In this article the global potential of energy crop production on degraded lands was estimated using detailed, spatially explicit data about the area, type and extent of degradation derived from the Global Assessment of Land Degradation Dataset, and by combining this dataset with various spatially explicit data sets. Next, an estimate was made of the possible yield of perennial energy crops on the degraded areas as a function of the type and degree of degradation. Lightly degraded areas were not included, as these areas might be suitable for conventional food production.

The total global potential energy production on degraded lands was assessed to be slightly above 150 and 190 EJ yr, for grassy and woody energy crops, respectively. Most of this potential, however, is on areas currently classified as forest, cropland or pastoral land, leaving a potential of around 25 and 32 EJ yr on other land cover categories. Most of the potential energy crop production on degraded land is located in developing regions. China has a total potential of 30 EJ yr, of which 4 EJ yr from areas classified as other land. Also USA, Brazil, West Africa, East Africa, Russia and India have substantial potentials of 12–18 EJ yr, with up to 30% of the potential from areas classified as other land.