Expanding the Miscanthus market in the UK: growers in profile and experience, benefits and drawbacks of the bioenergy crop

von Hellfeld, Rebecca; Hastings, Astley; Kam, Jason; Rowe, Rebecca ORCID:; Clifton‐Brown, John; Donnison, Iain; Shepherd, Anita. 2022 Expanding the Miscanthus market in the UK: growers in profile and experience, benefits and drawbacks of the bioenergy crop. GCB Bioenergy, 14 (11). 1205-1218.

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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.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1757-1693
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: BECCS, bioenergy policy, decarbonisation, grower survey, Miscanthus, net zero strategy, sustainable agriculture
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 07 Nov 2022 17:28 +0 (UTC)

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