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Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Vol. 54, 2016, Pages: 1537–1551

Exploring marginal and degraded lands for biomass and bioenergy production: An Indian scenario

Sheikh Adil Edrisi, P.C. Abhilash

Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India.


Globally, the share of renewable energy is limited to 19% of the total energy consumption. Out of which, 9.3% is shared by traditional biomass. In India, the installed capacity of energy production from biomass is estimated as 12.8% of the total renewables. Although this scenario is at par with the global level, even this share of bioenergy production is not sufficient to meet the present and future energy demands of India. Therefore, there is an immediate need to maximize the bioenergy production in India. Apart from the reduced emission rate than the fossil fuels, bioenergy has also immense potential to mitigate various environmental issues and therefore the biofuel cultivation has been considered as an additional opportunity for land restoration. However, the land availability for bioenergy production is very limited since there is a growing demand to produce more food to feed the rapidly growing population. Therefore, the arable lands cannot be considered for bioenrgy production. Hence we propose that the sustainable intensification of bioenergy production from degraded land is a viable option because the wise and judicious utilization of marginal and degraded lands can play a vital role in solving the conflict between food and fuel production and offer a sustainable solution to meet out the energy requirement of the society. In this backdrop, the present article is aimed to explore the prospects and promises of bioenergy production from the marginal and degraded lands of India. Since India has around 39.24 million hectares of wastelands, sustainable utilization of such land would provide multipurpose benefits such as biomass and bioenergy production, soil carbon sequestration and regaining ecosystem services.

Keywords: Renewable energy; Bioenergy; Marginal lands; Degraded lands; Sustainable utilization.

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