Comprehensive Miscanthus Commercialization Model Needed
by David R. Robbins and Stephen S. Tam (Ethanol Producer Magazine/Earth Sense Energy USA Inc.) Miscanthus x Giganteus (MxG) has great potential to become the energy crop of choice in the United States. It has been explored in Europe for two decades but has not been actively pursued in the U.S. until very recently. Many reasons can be cited, such as the lack of long-term yield data in different U.S. regions, high establishment costs and the relatively low yield from direct conversion of cellulosic biomass into bioethanol based on today’s technology. Lack of political support for green initiatives such as proliferation of carbon credits adds to the woes for adoption of miscanthus as a viable energy crop of the future.
…It is crucial to the successful scalability and sustainability of MxG commercialization that the individual process MxG blocks—propagation, farming and densification—be profitable. This will significantly enable the national targets for conversion of biomass to ethanol to be achievable.
…Earth Sense Energy USA Inc. and other companies are developing strategies to address the challenges facing successful MxG development, including the following:
• Addressing extremely high establishment costs, often estimated at more than $2,000 per acre, by maximizing automation to reduce labor costs, and using plantlets and rhizomes to reduce costs.
• Matching field stock genetics to geographical requirements to ensure field establishment success.
• Ensuring top yields by using precision planting technology to achieve high plant density.
• Managing market growth and nursery/greenhouse utilization by identifying a product mix for nursery business during the demand ramp-up phase for miscanthus that includes propagation of vegetables, fruits or ornamentals. READ MORE