Spatio-temporal availability of field crop residues for biofuel production in Northwest and Southwest China

L. Han, X. Wang, J.H.J. Spiertz, L. Yang, Y. Zhou, J. Liu, G. Xie

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Developing bioenergy from plant feedstocks is considered an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure biofuel supply. This study is an assessment of the availability of field crop residues for bioenergy feedstocks in northwest China (NWC) and southwest China (SWC). The amount of field crop residues was calculated by analyzing statistical data on crop acreages and yields at the provincial and county levels in the NWC and SWC regions. Total residue mass varied from 58.1 to 62.0 million tons (Mt) in NWC and from 92.8 to 97.2 Mt in SWC from 2008 to 2010. Field residues accounted for 86 % in NWC and 94 % in SWC of the total residue mass; the process residue mass accounted for 14 and 6 % of the total residue mass in the NWC and SWC, respectively. In the NWC region, wheat, maize, and cotton were the main crops, providing 17.0, 14.0, and 8.1 Mt of the field residue mass, respectively. In the SWCregion, rice, maize, and canola provided 30.6, 15.2, and 9.7 Mt of the total residue mass, respectively. In NWC, maize cob (1.98 Mt) and cotton seed hull (1.93Mt) formed the majority of the process residues. In SWC, rice hull (5.9 Mt), maize cob (3.7 Mt), and sugarcane bagasse (3.2 Mt) were the main contributors. Most crop residues became available from August to September in the NWC region, whereas harvesting was spread over the whole year in the SWC region. Converted to standard coal equivalent (SCE), total residues in the NWC region amounted to 32.6–34.1 Mt SCE, with 30.7 Mt of field residues and 2.7 Mt of process residue mass. In the SWC region, the total residue mass was equivalent to 48.7–50.8 Mt SCE, including 42.5 Mt of field residues and 7.2 Mt of process residues. Total crop residue availability for biofuels amounted to 16.9 and 28.1 Mt of field residues in NWC and SWC, respectively. Considering transport conditions, surplus amounts, residue densities, and harvest timings, Chongqing Municipality and Shaanxi province showed the best conditions for producing biofuel feedstocks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-414
JournalBio Energy Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • biomass energy-utilization
  • straw return
  • soil carbon
  • bioenergy
  • nitrogen
  • resources
  • provinces
  • rice


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