About Energy Crops


Firing with grain

Experience of firing grain so far on a farming level is still quite limited. However, there are still some different technologies to choose from, such as that from the Danish manufacturer, FUMO.  Whilst firing grain is still not very common even amongst farmers themselves, the interest to start firing with grain is enormous!

Most people react in a negative way the first time they hear about firing grain, but the fact is that within parts of the EU there is a surplus amount of arable acreage.  Our surplus of grain does not automatically reach the people that are starving in the world but instead costs the society a large amount of money in different support actions. Today, the price of the fuel is too high to make it profitable to fire it.  Maybe, just now, it is only suitable for farmers to fire surplus amounts of grain that has been too damaged to be sold to the food industry.

If we should be able to try to reach the global climate goals it is necessary to use the surplus acreage within the agriculture sector for energy production.  If we choose to grow crops we might lose our open farm land that we are used to seeing.  If we use grain for energy production we keep the option of producing alcohol, vehicle fuel, burning for energy production or for eating, for as long as possible.

Grain – and especially oats – can be locally produced over the whole of the EU and provide a valuable occupation for many also in rural areas. For the farmer it is not about any new and expensive investments, instead he can use the existing machinery he has already got.  As a fuel, grain is nature’s own pellets.  It is easy to transport, contains little fine fractions and, during combustion, does not contribute to the greenhouse effect.

By firing grain you can, in the long term, decrease the costs upon society on agricultural support measures, whilst at the same time retain the open landscape.  Developed grain firing would also give the farmer an alternative return for grain of bad quality.

To fire with grain

The heat value in grain varies dependent upon its moisture content and cleanliness.

Still, generally we can assume that oats are the most suitable fuel if you can choose.  Oats have typically a slightly higher fat content and a little better calorific value than other types of energy, and the soft shell makes the grain more flammable, whilst at the same time the melting point of the ash from oats produces a higher combustion temperature before the ash then sinters.

If you should cultivate for energy purposes it could be then be favourable to grow oats, growing a type that is easy to thresh and gives an early ripeness. The most economic for your own use otherwise is to cultivate as usual and fire the parts of the crop that for different reasons have a lower market price.

When considering the combustion technology side of things there are no bigger differences between firing with wood chips, pellets and/or grain. The equipment presently available can handle each of these fuels and with a similar performance.  However, you cannot fire grain in a traditional pellet burner or woodchip stoker due to the increased ash content and the hardness of the grain causes technological problems with the combustion.  However, there are special grain burners that can also operate with pellets, such as that produced by FUMO.