Many Universities are using wood-chip from willows for heating, which is far more cost effective than oil heating. It also is carbon-neutral to the environment. Much is being learned about the advantages of willow farming.
Farmers in Northern Ireland are getting into this on a big scale.
Here is a nice Video that summarizes some of what's involved.
Willow farmers bury sludge in the soil as fertilizer for the willows. They get paid for taking away the sludge, and this method of sludge-disposal is very environmentally friendly. Added to that, willows can be grown in barren spots that are not good for regular crops such as wheat. So it is Win Win all round.
I love to see how innovative farmers are being where they they are thinking outside the box to beat the recession, while helping the environment at the same time. Similar use is being made of giant grasses.