Future energy potential of Miscanthus in Europe

Astley Hastings, John Cedric Clifton-Brown, Martin Wattenbach, C. Paul Mitchell, Paul F. Stampfl, Pete Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


European field experiments have demonstrated Miscanthus can produce some of the highest energy yields per hectare of all potential energy crops. Previous modelling studies using MISCANMOD have calculated the potential energy yield for the EU27 from mean historical climate data (1960–1990). In this paper, we have built on the previous studies by further developing a new Miscanthus crop growth model MISCANFOR in order to analyse (i) interannual variation in yields for past and future climates, (ii) genotype-specific parameters on yield in Europe. Under recent climatic conditions (1960–1990) we show that 10% of arable land could produce 1709 PJ and mitigate 30 Tg of carbon dioxide-carbon (CO2-C) equivalent greenhouse gasses (GHGs) compared with EU27 primary energy consumption of 65 598 PJ, emitting 1048 Tg of CO2-C equivalent GHGs in 2005. If we continue to use the clone Miscanthus×giganteus, MISCANFOR shows that, as climate change reduces in-season water availability, energy production and carbon mitigation could fall 80% by 2080 for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change A2 scenario. However, because Miscanthus is found in a huge range of climates in Asia, we propose that new hybrids will incorporate genes conferring superior drought and frost tolerance. Using parameters from characterized germplasm, we calculate energy production could increase from present levels by 88% (to 2360 PJ) and mitigate 42 Tg of CO2-C equivalent using 10% arable land for the 2080 mid-range A2 scenario. This is equivalent to 3.6% of 2005 EU27 primary energy consumption and 4.0% of total CO2 equivalent C GHG emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-196
Number of pages17
JournalGCB Bioenergy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2009


  • bioenergy
  • climate change
  • energy crops
  • genotype potential
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • Miscanthus
  • modelling


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