Expanding the Miscanthus market in the UKGrowers in profile and experience, benefits and drawbacks of the bioenergy crop

Authors Organisations
  • Rebecca von Hellfeld(Author)
    School of Biological Sciences University of Aberdeen Aberdeen UK
  • Astley Hastings(Author)
    School of Biological Sciences University of Aberdeen Aberdeen UK
  • Jason Kam(Author)
    Terravesta Lincoln UK
  • Rebecca Rowe(Author)
    UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Lancaster Environmental Centre Lancaster UK
  • John Clifton‐Brown(Author)
    Giessen University
  • Iain Donnison(Author)
  • Anita Shepherd(Author)
    School of Biological Sciences University of Aberdeen Aberdeen UK
Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Early online date14 Sep 2022
DOI
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Sep 2022
Links
Permanent link No renderer: handleNetPortal,dk.atira.pure.api.shared.model.researchoutput.ContributionToJournal
Show download statistics
View graph of relations
Citation formats

Abstract

To achieve net zero greenhouse gas emission by 2050 as set out by the 2019 amendment to the 2008 UK Climate Change Act, a major shift towards renewable energy is needed. This includes the development of new methods along with improving and upscaling existing technologies. One example of new methods in bioenergy is developing new Miscanthus cultivars for electricity generation via thermal power station furnaces. Miscanthus is still relatively new compared with other agriculture practices, so market assessments and improvements are needed to reduce the barriers to entry for prospective growers. This publication provides a profile of UK Miscanthus growers and their businesses, their experiences of benefits and drawbacks of the crop, and what they see as potential barriers to entry for prospective farmers. A survey of current Miscanthus growers in England and Wales was conducted and indicated that most farmers were content with the crop and that its environmental and economic benefits were noted. However, it was evident that with a geographically limited UK market, growers wanted to see a better distribution of biomass processing stations to reduce the ongoing costs of transport. With growing demand for renewables, including bio-energy sources, it was determined important to provide information and support for stable farming operations and to incentivise the adoption of Miscanthus. Such incentives include ongoing development of new cultivars, focussing on traits such as production potential and stressor resilience, and growers indicated preference for an annual planting grant. These developments are predicted to further improve the crop's profit margin, making it a more cost-effective crop for farmers. Sensitively managed Miscanthus also has the potential to contribute to carbon sequestration, soil health, and aspects of farmland biodiversity. Incentivising such management in government land–based environmental schemes would offer additional income streams and help to promote environmental positive crop planting.

Keywords

  • BECCS, bioenergy policy, decarbonisation, grower survey, Miscanthus, net zero strategy, sustainable agriculture

Documents