King, J. S., R. Ceulemans, J. M. Albaugh, S. Y. Dillen, J. Domec, R. Fichot, M. Fischer, Z. Leggett, E. Sucre, M. Trnka, and T. Zenone. 2013. The challenge of lignocellulosic bioenergy in a water-limited world. BioScience 63:102-117.
It is hoped that lignocellulosic sources will provide energy security, offset carbon dioxide enrichment of the atmosphere, and stimulate the development of new economic sectors. However, little is known about the productivity and sustainability of plant cell-wall energy industries. In this study, we used 16 global circulation models to project the global distribution of relative water availability in the coming decades and summarized the available data on the water-use efficiency of tree- and grass-based bioenergy systems. The data on bioenergy water use were extremely limited. Productivity was strongly correlated with water-use efficiency, with C4 grasses having a distinct advantage in this regard. Our analysis of agro climatic drivers of bioenergy productivity suggests that relative water availability will be one of the most important climatic changes to consider in the design of bioenergy systems.
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