For centuries, sugar has been virtually the only commercialized product derived from sugarcane. Traditionally, sugarcane breeding programs focused exclusively on the increase of the sucrose content, abandoning characteristics such as biomass yield and fiber content. Recently, sugarcane gained prominence also for its potential in terms of biomass production. As a result, some sugarcane breeding programs began to look for ways to increase fiber content and biomass yield instead of sugar content. In the 1980s, Alexander created the concept of energy cane. Here we review the changes in the sugarcane breeding programs related to enhanced fiber instead of sugar content. Compare the energy generation of energy cane with other biomass crops. Also, the recent changes in the biomass and biofuels scenario, focusing on topics as 2G ethanol and the RenovaBio program, from the Brazilian Government, which will give carbon credits to biofuels. Although several studies demonstrate its potential for biomass production, energy cane is still a new technology on an experimental scale and has been struggling to reach and establish on a commercial scale. However, policies and new technologies are increasing the demand for lignocellulosic material. Therefore, this chapter connects these points and shows the potential of this new plant material for the coming years.
Part of the book: Sugarcane