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An ethanol plant designed & built in Italy produces bioethanol from agricultural residue. Located in Crescentino, this plant was an outcome of efforts from two Italian based chemical companies Novozmes and Beta Renewables that teamed up together to turn the concept into reality. Rice straw, wheat straw and Arundo donax is utilized by this plant to facilitate the ethanol production process. Significant amount of power is generated by this plant that is almost good enough to cater to the energy requirements of the facility. Electrical power generated in excess is sent to the local grid.
This plant produces around 20 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year which is less than that produced by the corn fed plants in the U.S. Whatever may the amount of ethanol production, it must be understood that use of wood, rice, straw in production of ethanol will lead to depletion of natural nutrients from the surface of soil which will lead to increased requirement of chemical fertilizer. Fossil fuels are essentially required for the production of chemical fertilizers. Before the US government invests more of the taxpayers money to set up second generation biofuel plants, there must be a public discussion on this subject.
You can be aware of the positive & negative aspects of supporting ethanol production using agricultural residues by going through the book “Renewable Energy: A Common Sense Energy Plan”. This informative alternative energy book is authored by Brad Linscott and includes a broad description of the various aspects related with use of renewable energy. In this solar energy book, you will also find proper comparisons between fossil fuels, nuclear fuels and renewable energy.