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Energy a worldwide concern

Agriculture.com Staff 03/07/2007 @ 8:00am

A major topic at the SIMA show in 2007 is agriculture and energy, which is a fast-developing sector. A pressing concern is how energy needs will be met in the next few decades. The farming sector is a source of hope in this area.

Bioenergy currently fulfills less than 5% of the needs. Even though it is capable of providing approximately a quarter. Recognizing the needs of players in this potential boom sector, the show featured an area dedicated to bioenergy with a series of talks on the subject.

"Productive, sustainable agriculture and silviculture are probably, alongside energy efficiency, the primary, cheapest and most effective defence against accelerated climate change," says Claude Roy, AGRICE/ADEME.

Four forms of renewable energy are currently being developed in France. Solar and water power affect farmers only marginally; any direct involvement tends to be restricted to very small-scale projects such as the use of batteries for electric fencing or drying fodder. Wind power only involves farmers who own their land. On the other hand, biomass as a source of bioenergy is a subject of lively debate in the farming world and its use could grow rapidly with the advent of biofuels. The development of new crops and the recovery, until now largely neglected, of energy resources, such as straw in crop growing areas or wood, are rapidly developing areas.

The use of biomass in France is set to increase rapidly over the coming decades. In 2005, France's energy consumption stood at 250 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe), most of which was provided by nuclear energy and 95 Mtoe from oil. Bioenergy provided just 11 Mtoe, which is less than 4.5% of the total. Most of this bioenergy is comes from domestic fuelwood (7.5 Mtoe) while community and industrial heating plants and bioincineration use only 2.5 Mtoe/yr. Bioenergy consumption is set to increase to 15 Mtoe/yr by 2010 and rise to 40 Mtoe/yr by 2040. Forecasters say these figures will likely be revised upwards since they were made when oil was worth only US $50 (US) a barrel.

A major topic at the SIMA show in 2007 is agriculture and energy, which is a fast-developing sector. A pressing concern is how energy needs will be met in the next few decades. The farming sector is a source of hope in this area.

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