Bioenergy is an important renewable energy option worldwide, but the industry is susceptible to a myriad of risks including biomass supply, of which drought plays a role. Crops yields decrease during drought, increasing year-to-year risk for the agricultural industry. For the renewable energy industry, in particular, the effect of drought on crops is substantial and complex. This chapter discusses the current state of knowledge regarding how drought affects biomass destined for renewable energy as it relates to dry biomass yields and chemistry, the latter of which heavily impacts cost of production and final product yields. Advanced supply systems are one option for reducing biomass supply risk. These systems lead to higher, less variable crop yields during uncontrollable events like drought; however, the quality of material supplied in a drought year may still vary as drought impacts plant chemistry. This chapter provides analysis for chemical composition of four bioenergy crops observing that both carbohydrates and lignin decrease during a drought year compared to a year with minimal to no drought. These chemical changes can impact biochemical conversion through inhibitor formation and altering degradability during pretreatment.
Part of the book: Drought