Canadian Forest Service Publications

A spatial model of climate change effects on yields and break-even prices of switchgrass and miscanthus in Ontario. 2014. De Laporte, A.V.; Weersink,A.J.; McKenney, D.W. GCB Bioenergy 6:390-400.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 34945

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12058

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Abstract

Concerns over global climate change have led many jurisdictions to implement strategies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas levels. One example is the replacement of coal with dedicated energy crops, such as switchgrass and miscanthus. The yields and costs of these potentially valuable bio-energy crops have been evaluated in only a few cases, and previous studies have not focused on climate change effects. This article assesses the potential yields and costs of growing switchgrass and miscanthus on the agricultural land base in Ontario, Canada, under different climate assumptions, using a GIS-based integrated biophysical and economic simulation model. The model shows that miscanthus has a mean peak yield that is 88.5% (29.6 t ha−1 compared with 15.7 t ha−1) higher and a mean farm gate break-even price that is 25.9% ($58.20 per tonne compared with $73.29 per tonne) lower than switchgrass. The impact of climate change on the yield and break-even price of switchgrass and miscanthus is dependent upon the climate model. CGCM3.1 predicts that mean peak yields of switchgrass and miscanthus could drop by 17.8% and 14.9%, whereas CCSM3.0 predicts that mean yields could increase to 41.4% and 44.9%, from 2071 to 2100, in the A2 climate scenario respectively. Both crops show promise as biomass sources for bio-energy production, but a changing global climate, along with cultivar and planting technology developments, could affect crop choices.

Plain Language Summary

Concerns over global climate change have led many jurisdictions to implement strategies to reduce greenhouse gas levels. One example is the replacement of coal with dedicated energy crops, such as switchgrass and miscanthus. The yields and costs of these potentially valuable bio-energy crops have not been evaluated often, none of which have examined how climate change may alter their returns. This paper assesses the potential yields and costs of growing switchgrass and miscanthus on agricultural land in Ontario, Canada, under different climate assumptions, using a GIS-based integrated biophysical and economic simulation model. The model shows that miscanthus has a mean peak yield that is 88.5% higher than switchgrass and a mean farm-gate break-even price that is 25.9% lower than switchgrass. The potential impact of climate change on the yield and break-even price of switchgrass and miscanthus depends on the model used. CGCM3.1 predicts that mean peak yields of switchgrass and miscanthus could drop 17.8% and 14.9%, whereas CCSM3.0 predicts that mean yields could increase 41.4% and 44.9%, from 2071-2100. Both crops show promise as biomass sources for bio-energy production, but a changing global climate and cultivar and planting technology developments could affect crop choices.