, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 233-249
Date: 09 Sep 2006

Switchgrass as an alternate feedstock for power generation: an integrated environmental, energy and economic life-cycle assessment

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An environmental biocomplexity analysis is done on the environmental, energy, economic and technological implications of using switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) to replace coal in power generation. We evaluate cost, environmental impact and net greenhouse gas emissions. In the analysis, alternatives for production and transport are considered. The analysis shows that the most effective technologies for switchgrass preparation are harvesting loose material for hauling and chopping and then compressing it into modules and transporting. The GHG emission mitigation is found to be substantial with the mitigation contribution under cofiring found to be greater per ton of switchgrass than for switchgrass fired alone. This paper also analyzes the implications of switchgrass use under alternative cofiring ratios, coal prices, hauling distances and per acre yields.