Agron. Sustain. Dev.
Volume 28, Number 4, October-December 2008
Page(s) 465 - 472
Published online 13 August 2008
Agron. Sustain. Dev. 28 (2008) 465-472
DOI: 10.1051/agro:2008030

Potential of Miscanthus grasses to provide energy and hence reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Astley Hastings1, John Clifton-Brown2, Martin Wattenbach1, Paul Stampfl3, C. Paul Mitchell4 and Pete Smith1

1  School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Cruickshank Building, St Machar Drive, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, UK
2  Plant Breeding and Genetics, IGER, Plas Gogerddan, Aberystwyth, SY23 3EB, UK
3  School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
4  College of Physical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Fraser Noble Building, Kings College, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, UK

Accepted 16 May 2008; published online 13 August 2008

Abstract - Using bio-fuels, such as bio-ethanol or bio-diesel in transportation, or biomass in power generation reduces CO2 emissions as the carbon is fixed by the plants from the atmosphere and saves the equivalent fossil fuel. The perennial rhizomatous C4 grass Miscanthus has one of the highest energy intensities per hectare of land in Europe. Here we model the future potential of Europe to produce Miscanthus with four different future land use and climate change scenarios and conclude that up to 17% of Europe's current primary energy consumption could be provided by this bio-energy crop by the year 2080 but that inter-annual variation of crop yield can be more than 20%. We conclude that that the highest greenhouse gas mitigation from bio-energy can be achieved by growing a Miscanthus crop on existing fertile and degraded arable land and not on land with a currently undisturbed ecosystem.

Key words: Energy crops / biofuel / bioenergy / climate change / modeling: Miscanthus / Greenhouse gas emissions

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2008