Energy plants mean all plants that are supplied in any form whatsoever, for energy utilization. “Conventional” forests or grasslands that are utilized for energy generation would also belong here, for such a point of view, but normally we would rather mean agricultural crops here. We would basically distinguish two large categories of energy crops:
Intensive energy crops: Traditional crops that are cultivated, in most cases, annually and also must be farmed in plant care, such as weed control or fertilizing. Maize for biogas recovery or rapeseed and sunflower for oil production can be given here as examples.
Extensive energy crops: Cultures of alternative, extensive cultivation (very low costs of care and fertilizing), which mostly, once planted, can be used over many years. Examples include energy forests from short rotation, Miscanthus / elephant grass, and Sida. We at Energiepflanzen.com deal exclusively with these extensive energy plants that appear to us ecologically meaningful and serve as a valuable addition to biomass production from the forest.
The term of “energy crops” has been discredited in recent years, partly rightly and partly wrongly.
Of course, it is reprehensible to clear rain forest areas for producing (palm) oil or soy and for selling them as “biofuels” in Europe. However, as in other areas, it does not make sense to put all energy plants under the same umbrella and demonize them too much, it is better to see the whole thing on the basis.