PRODUCTION OF ENERGY RAW MATERIALS AND ENERGY - A KEY FUNCTION OF AGRICULTURE IN THE 21ST CENTURY
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The demand for energy is a direct result of economic development hence a further considerable growth in the consumption of energy is forecast to take place in the next several years. In all the examined scenarios it is predicted that after 2020 the share of conventional fuels - oil, natural gas and coal, will be diminishing in step with the depletion of their deposits and accompanying growth in energy prices. These raw materials will be replaced with the sources of renewable energy. The most important source of renewable energy in Poland is bio-mass, which can be used for the purpose of production of energy in the process of direct incineration (timber, straw, sludge), of its transformation into liquid fuels (rape-seed oil esters, alcohol) or gaseous fuels (e.g. agricultural bio-gas, bio-gas from sewage treatment plants, gas obtained from refuse heaps). The wide-scale use of bio-mass for the purpose of production of energy is likely to stimulate the development of rural areas and agriculture. The necessity to fulfil obligations stemming from the four EU Directives (2001/77/EC, 2003/30/EC, 2003/54/EC, 2003/96/EC) by the year 2010 may result in the demand for agricultural raw materials obtained from plantations covering the area of approximately a million hectares of arable land. In 2020 this demand is likely to at least double. This creates a chance not only for additional incomes from agricultural production but also for the creation of new jobs and for a less polluted environment.
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