According to their results, straw has been significantly underused as a biomass residue and waste material. It’s one of Germany’s most important resources, accounting for 58 percent, and yet, it has been used as bedding for farm animals far more than for energy production. The scientists stated the potential of straw-based applications in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Applied Energy. Reportedly, between 8 and 13 million tons of straw could be used sustainably for energy or fuel production giving 1.7 to 2.8 million average households with electricity and 2.8 to 4.5 million households the benefit of heat.
According to TiloArnhold’s article on RenewableEnergyWorld.com, “It must be taken into consideration that cereal straw plays an important role in the humus balance of soils. For this reason some of the straw must be left scattered on the agricultural land to prevent nutrients from being permanently extracted from the soil. To calculate the humus balance of soils three different methods of calculation were tested by the team of scientists. Depending upon the method of calculation used, 8, 10 or 13 megatons of straw can be used sustainably every year for energy production — i.e. without causing any disadvantages to the soils or other forms of utilisation.
"To our knowledge this is the first time that a study like this has been conducted for an EU country, demonstrating the potential of straw for a truly sustainable energy use, while taking into account the humus balance," stresses Prof. Daniela Thraen, scientist at the DBFZ and the UFZ.