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An investigation into producing bioenergy at the UBC Farm Multani, Kevin; Ng, Conrad; Tilley, Eric; Yuen, Amanda 2013-11-28

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 UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student ReportAmanda Yuen, Conrad Ng, Eric Tilley, Kevin MultaniAn Investigation into Producing Bioenergy at the UBC FarmAPSC 261November 28, 20139911454University of British Columbia Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.  ABSTRACTThis report presents an investigation into the opportunity for the UBC Farm to producebiomass for energy production at the UBC Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility(BRDF). The goal of this investigation is to contribute to UBC’s effort to reduce greenhousegas emissions in an economically and socially responsible manner. The stakeholder for theproject is Kate Menzies, Agroforesty Coordinator at UBC Farm.The land considered to be available for use in the presented analysis was 500m2 ofmarginal lands and hedgerows at UBC Farm. The extent of this area was measured in personand estimated using maps (Google Maps, 2013). To manage the amount of research requiredfor the project, miscanthus giganteus, switchgrass and hybrid poplar were investigated andcompared on several qualitative and quantitative criteria designated by UBC Farm and theBRDF. The result of this evaluation was that miscanthus giganteus is the most beneficial cropto produce. Its expected annual yield will increase over time, achieving a maximum of 1 tonof dry matter after three to four years. At maximum yield rates, it will supply 0.008% of theBRDFs annual biofuel consumption (Nexterra Energy Corp., 2013). Assuming the BRDFis operating in thermal mode at all times, this accounts for 1.6 lbs/hr of steam productionand a reduction of 0.4 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year (Nexterra EnergyCorp., 2013).The triple bottom line assessment conducted for growing miscanthus giganteus indi-cates that UBC Farm will need to invest $460 to begin the project. This project will operateat a net loss of $205 per year afterwards. However, this is a sound investment consideringthe environmental and social benefits of the project. Environmentally, the project needsto be increased in scale to significantly reduce UBC’s GHG emissions, but there are otherpositives such as reduced soil erosion to consider. Socially, there is the potential for thisproject to have a significant impact in that it will broaden interest and understanding of theproduction of bioenergy and create new relationships within UBC’s community and beyond.Overall, UBC stands to benefit from this project from an investment point of view, and itis recommended that UBC consider taking action in the near future.TABLE OF CONTENTSLIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iLIST OF ABBREVIATIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iiGLOSSARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii1.0 INTRODUCTION 11.1 CROP SELECTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.1.1 MISCANTHUS GIGANTEUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21.1.2 SWITCHGRASS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31.1.3 HYBRID POPLAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32.0 ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT 52.1 YIELD MODEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52.2 COST ANALYSIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52.3 OVERALL ECONOMIC ANALYSIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73.0 ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT 93.1 LOCAL IMPACTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93.2 UPSCALE DISCUSSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134.0 SOCIAL ASSESSMENT 144.1 LOCAL SCOPE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144.2 GREATER COMMUNITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145.0 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION 16REFERENCES ivAPPENDICES viAPPENDIX A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viAPPENDIX B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . viiLIST OF ILLUSTRATIONSLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1 Map of UBC Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2Figure 2 Travel Distance between UBC Farm and BRDF . . . . . . . . . . . . 6Figure 3 Hedgerow at UBC Farm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9Figure 4 Mean Avian Breeding Abundance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11LIST OF TABLESTable 1 Miscanthus Yield Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Table 2 Input Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7Table 3 Cost Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7Table 4 Overall Economic Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7Table 5 Overall Environmental Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12iLIST OF ABBREVIATIONSBRDF: Bioenergy Research and Demonstration FacilityBtu: British Thermal UnitCHP: Combined Heat and PowerGHG: Greenhouse Gasesppmv: Parts Per Million By VolumeUBC University of British ColumbiaiiGLOSSARYBiodiversity: The aggregate variety of flora and fauna in a particular ecosystem.Bioenergy: Renewable energy produced from organic matter.Biofuel: A fuel derived from organic matter.Biomass: Organic matter used as biofuel.Coppice: Cutting a tree or shrub to ground level regularly to stimulate growth.Crop density: Number of crops per unit area of farmland.Genotype: The genetic composition of an organism.Hedgerow: A mixed hedge of plants, bordering a road or field.Marginal land: Land that cannot support agriculture without investments.Perennial grass: A plant that has a life cycle of more than two years.Rhizome: An underground stem from which plant shoots continuously grow.Runoff: The flow of water from precipitation over the land.Senesce: The deterioration of a living organism with age.Sequester: To store or hide away.Soil structure: The constitution of soil particles and pores between them.Taproot: A straight root growing vertically downwards from which roots sprout.iiiAN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 1 of 161.0 INTRODUCTIONThe University of British Columbia (UBC) is aiming to meet strict deadlines to reduceits greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions until its ultimate goal of zero emissions is achievedin 2050 (UBC Sustainability, 2013). UBC’s bioenergy research and demonstration facility(BRDF) will play a large role is making this possible. The BRDF has two operating modes,but it is currently running in thermal mode at all times (Menzies, 2013). In this mode ofoperation, wood residuals are gasified to fuel a boiler for steam production (Nexterra EnergyCorp., 2013). When running at full capacity, the BRDF can supply 25% of UBC’s steamuse (Nexterra Energy Corp., 2013). This significantly reduces the campus’ reliance on lesssustainable forms of energy production.Currently, the wood residuals being used as fuel for the BRDF are being trucked in fromareas around Vancouver (Menzies, 2013). UBC Farm has expressed interest in contributingto the BRDF’s fuel supply by growing biomass on hedgerows and marginal lands. Thishas the potential to further integrate UBC’s sustainability efforts by bringing together UBCFarm and the BRDF. It will also serve as an important demonstration of the use of bioenergyfor greater society. This report presents an investigation into which crop is best suited forgrowth at UBC Farm and energy production at the BRDF. The economic, environmental,and social impacts of implementing such a project will be considered in the form of a triplebottom line analysis.1.1 CROP SELECTIONIn order to simplify this investigation, three types of crops were considered for growthat UBC Farm: miscanthus giganteus, switchgrass, and hybrid poplar. These crops werecompared based on various quantitative and qualitative criteria designated by UBC Farm andthe BRDF. The checklist shown in Appendix B summarizes the findings of this comparison.It should be noted that a general assumption was made that a wood chipper can be borrowedfrom UBC Plant Operations to chip all crops to less than three inches in size and that shadingcan be mitigated with occasional trimming.The amount of land available for planting was estimated to be 500 square meters, or0.05 hectares. This statistic was determined by visiting UBC Farm in person and analyzingmaps provided by the project stakeholder.AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 2 of 16Figure 1: A top view of the UBC Farm, where the highlighted areas are the prospectivehedgerows that the miscanthus may be planted on (Menzies, 2013).1.1.1 MISCANTHUS GIGANTEUSMiscanthus giganteus is a sterile genotype of the perennial grass, miscanthus. It ispropagated by rhizome division, so there is no reason for concern with regard to invasive-ness (Kludze et al., 2011). Its low demand for nutrients and water make it well suited forgrowth at UBC Farm (Kludze et al., 2011). In addition, it can be grown organically withoutmuch risk of losing yield. Miscanthus giganteus stands typically last for 15-20 years and re-quire three to four years before reaching a mature yield (Wang et al., 2013). A stand densityof 10,000 plants per hectare is considered ideal, with the potential to yield roughly 20 tonsof dry matter per hectare (Kludze et al., 2011). It is best to harvest miscanthus giganteusin February or March, as the plants will return nutrients to the soil and dry out, droppingall leafy, green material (Kludze et al., 2011). The timing of harvest may prove to be veryimportant to ensure that miscanthus giganteus meets certain requirements designated bythe BRDF. Some data indicates that miscanthus giganteus may have levels of sulfur (S) andchlorine (Cl) slightly in excess of the specifications listed in the ultimate analysis section ofthe fuel specification sheet provided by the stakeholder and attached as Appendix A (Nex-terra Energy Corp., 2007). Excesses of these chemicals may result in unwanted emissions,corrosion, and lowered ash melting temperatures (Kludze et al., 2011). However, thesechemical levels decrease when harvesting is delayed, and it is unlikely that there would belong-term harm to the BRDF considering that it would only process 1 ton of dry miscanthusAN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 3 of 16giganteus each year. Nevertheless, it would be prudent to perform an ultimate analysis onmiscanthus giganteus grown at UBC Farm prior to introducing it at the BRDF. Miscanthusgiganteus has the highest projected yield of the three crops investigated and it also has thehighest energy content according to data from proximate analyses (Kludze et al., 2011).Overall, it was judged to have the most potential for successful use for this project, so thetriple bottom line assessment will consider the economic, social, and environmental impactsof growing miscanthus giganteus for bioenergy at UBC Farm.1.1.2 SWITCHGRASSSwitchgrass is also a perennial grass (Kludze et al., 2011). It is planted as a seed andis not known to be invasive, as it can be easily outcompeted by other plants (Kludze et al.,2011). It is similar to miscanthus giganteus with regards to nutrient demand, water demand,and being able to be grown organically, although yields may suffer if it has to compete withweeds (Kludze et al., 2011). Switchgrass typically requires two to three years to reach amature yield and stands are known to last beyond ten (Wang et al., 2013). Growing 10-32seedlings per square meter is considered ideal for achieving yields up to 12 tons per hectare,per year (Kludze et al., 2011).Switchgrass was not considered the ideal crop for this project because its yield isprojected to be less than miscanthus giganteus, and it also showed elevated levels of S in itsultimate analysis (Kludze et al., 2011). In addition, switchgrass is about 500Btu/lb shortof the BRDF requirement of 8,500Btu/lb (Kludze et al., 2011). All in all, it would likelygrow with ease at UBC Farm, but it doesn’t appear to be well suited for energy productionpurposes.1.1.3 HYBRID POPLARHybrid poplars are considered members of the willow family (Kludze et al., 2011).They are known for their high growth rate and the ability to coppice (Kludze et al., 2011).Hybrid poplar can be expected to grow well at UBC Farm based on its water demand and soilrequirements. In fact, trials with hybrid poplar at UBC Farm have already been conductedwith encouraging results (Menzies, 2013). Furthermore, hybrid poplar was the only cropconsidered that did not appear to have any potential issues with its chemical composition,as determined by ultimate analyses (Kludze et al., 2011).On the other hand, there may still be issues with processing hybrid poplar at theBRDF. Proximate analyses indicate that it averages 7000 to 8000Btu/lb and it may be toohigh in moisture content, depending on handling (Kludze et al., 2011). In addition, yieldsAN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 4 of 16are projected to be low relative to growing miscanthus giganteus (Kludze et al., 2011). Adisease known as the stem canker is known to further reduce yields in some cases (Kludzeet al., 2011).The main disadvantage with using hybrid poplar for this project is that it sends downa deep taproot, making the plants extremely difficult to remove if they are found to beineffective for energy production (Kludze et al., 2011). Even if miscanthus giganteus doesnot perform as idealized, it wouldn’t be too difficult to remove it and try something else.In fact, hybrid poplar would likely be the next best option if combustion issues arise withmiscanthus giganteus. This is difficult to predict, so there may be some trial and errorrequired with the implementation of this project. With this in mind, it is more prudent totest a plot of miscanthus giganteus before planting hybrid poplar.AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 5 of 162.0 ECONOMIC ASSESSMENTIn the following economic analysis of miscanthus hedgerows at UBC Farm, the primaryassessment indicator is the dollar. A yield model for the crop will be introduced, the costsof all inputs will be explained in detail, and the net profit will be calculated over the fulllife cycle of miscanthus. The final results of this analysis will shed light on the economicviability of miscanthus at the farm.2.1 YIELD MODELAs described in Section 1.1.1, miscanthus giganteus is a perennial energy grass thathas a crop life of approximately 15 years. This species of miscanthus has a yield of 2 to 3tonnes per hectare in year 1, 8 tonnes per hectare in year 2, 13 to 15 tonnes in year 3, andmore than 20 tonnes per hectare from year 4 onwards as the crop reaches its maximum yield(Kludze et al., 2011). Given the available land area of 500m2 at UBC Farm, the yield modelof miscanthus at UBC Farm is shown below in Table 1.Year Miscanthus Yield (tonnes/hectare) Yield at UBC Farm (tonnes)1 2 to 3 0.1 to 0.152 8 0.43 13 to 15 0.65 to 0.754 to 15 20+ 1+Table 1: Yield model for growing miscanthus on 500m2 of land at the UBC Farm (Kludzeet al., 2011)2.2 COST ANALYSISAs with most crops, the greatest costs are incurred in the first year, the establish-ment year. For miscanthus, the cost of rhizomes is responsible for the bulk of this initialinvestment. Miscanthus giganteus rhizomes, at a cost of $0.24 each, would cost $150 in totalto achieve an ideal crop density at UBC Farm (Kludze et al., 2011). Another portion ofthe start-up investment lies in the agricultural inputs. During the first year, miscanthusrequires fertilizer that includes 30-60 kg/hectare of nitrogen, 7 kg/hectare of phosphorus,100 kg/hectare of potassium, and 2300-4500 kg/hectare of lime (Khanna & Huang, 2010).In post-establishment years, the cost of inputs decreases significantly as the cost of rhizomesis omitted, the amount of nitrogen fertilizer required decreases to 25-50 kg/hectare, andlime is no longer required (Khanna & Huang, 2010). The costs of these fertilizers on aver-age is $300/tonne for nitrogen, $250/tonne for phosphorus, $350/tonne for potassium, andAN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 6 of 16$30/tonne for lime (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2012). Miscanthus is best harvestedin the spring, between February and March. According to the project stakeholder, labourduring this period would be paid at $16/hr (Kludze et al., 2011). During the establishmentyear, the hours of labour required at the farm is estimated to be 10 hours for planting and 8hours for harvest. As the yield of the miscanthus crop increases, the time required for harvestwill increase to 10 hours in year 2, 12 hours in year 3, and peak at 15 hours from year 4 tothe end of the life cycle. Conventional hay equipment can be used to harvest miscanthus,so new infrastructure or equipment will not be required. Regarding transportation, UBCFarm has a trailer available to transfer the miscanthus biomass to the BRDF. The distancebetween the two locations is 3.1 km, adding up to a 6.2 km round-trip between the twolocations, as shown in Figure 2 below (Google Maps, 2013).Figure 2: Image of the travel distance between UBC Farm and BRDF, courtesy of GoogleMaps.Once the miscanthus giganteus achieves a mature yield, a maximum estimate of 10round trips of the trailer would amount to 62km of total distance. With an average of 16miles per gallon, or 6.8 kilometers per litre, the total amount of fuel consumed by the trailerin a maximum yield year amounts to 9.1 litres (US Department of Energy, 2013). Currently,the price of gasoline or diesel fluctuates around $1.50/litre and consequently, the yearly costof transportation fuel totals to $13.67. In this economic analysis, an upper limit of $15/yearfor fuel will be taken into account.All of the variable factors mentioned above are summarized into Table 2, which containsinformation on the inputs required for each year of the miscanthus life cycle. The overallcost analysis, taking into account all of the yearly inputs, is shown in Table 3 below. Thefirst year requires the greatest investment and each subsequent year has significantly lowercosts.AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 7 of 16YearRhizomes(Yes/No)Nitrogen(kg)Phosphorus(kg)Potassium(kg)Lime(kg)Labour(hrs)1 Yes 30 to 60 7 100 2300 to 4500 182 No 25 to 50 7 100 0 103 No 25 to 50 7 100 0 124 to 15 No 25 to 50 7 100 0 15Table 2: Summarized amount of variable inputs for each year of the miscanthus life cycleYear RhizomesNitrogen( $300/tonne)Phosphorus( $250/tonne)Potassium( $350/tonne)Lime( $30/tonne)Labour($16/hr)Transportation($15/year)Total Costs1 $150 $0.45 to $0.90 $0.09 $1.75 $3.45 to $6.75 $288 $15 $459 to 4632 $0 $0.375 to $0.75 $0.09 $1.75 $0 $160 $15 $1773 $0 $0.375 to $0.75 $0.09 $1.75 $0 $192 $15 $2094 to 15 $0 $0.375 to $0.75 $0.09 $1.75 $0 $240 $15 $257Table 3: Detailed costs calculations for each of the inputs per year, indicating yearly totalcosts2.3 OVERALL ECONOMIC ANALYSISFor every dry tonne of biomass, the BRDF will pay $64, generating income for UBCFarm (Menzies, 2013). This figure allows the annual net profit to be calculated by referringto the yield model in Table 1 for yearly revenue, and adding the results to the annual totalcosts in Table 3 The overall economic summary is shown below in Table 2.3.Year Total CostsTotal Revenue(Yield x $64/tonne)Net Profit1 $459 to $463 $6.4 to $9.6 -$449.4 to -$456.62 $177 $25.60 -$151.403 $209 $41.6 to $48 -$161 to -$167.44 to 15 $257 $64 -$193Table 4: Annual net profit calculations for the 15 year life cycle.Over the 15-year life cycle of miscanthus at UBC Farm, the total profit amounts to-$3,084.6, indicating a small economic loss that averages to $205/year. From the perspectiveof UBC as a whole, the total miscanthus biomass produced at the UBC Farm will translateto 1,200 kilowatt-hours produced at the BRDF from year 4 to 15, which in turn reduces theelectricity bill for UBC. The statistic for kilowatt-hours is described in detail in Section 3.0of this paper. Factoring in BC Hydro’s “Large General Service” rate of $0.0956/kWh, themoney that UBC will save, over the 12 year period, amounts to $114.72 (BC Hydro, 2013).For UBC Farm, this arrangement of planting miscanthus hedgerows does not generate anyfinancial benefits. This holds true for the entire UBC campus, as miscanthus will only offset$1,376.64 of the electricity bill. Including the losses from UBC Farm, the final figure amountsAN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 8 of 16to a net of -$1,708 for UBC as a whole, indicating that miscanthus hedgerows will have anegligible economic impact.AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 9 of 163.0 ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTSince the scale of this project is very small, only the local environmental impacts ofproducing miscanthus giganteus as a bio-fuel crop at UBC Farm will be considered. A briefdiscussion on the impacts of replicating this project on a larger scale and its consequenceswill follow. With regard to the triple bottom line, all the benefits to the environment will becompared against the negative impacts to determine whether there is an overall ecologicalbenefit or hindrance.3.1 LOCAL IMPACTSLocal impacts affect the immediate environment at the UBC Farm and the rest of theUBC campus. At the UBC Farm, the miscanthus will be planted in the hedgerows indicatedon Figure 1, which approximately span a total area of 500m2. To consider the impact thatthis will have on the surrounding farm area, it is necessary to discuss the role that hedgerowsplay in the local ecosystem.Figure 3: A hedgerow on the UBC Farm, corresponds to the uppermost highlighted sectionon Figure 1.Hedgerows provide a plethora of ecological benefits to the farm. The hedges provideorganisms with food, breeding sites and shelter (Wolton, 2012). Furthermore, hedgerowsfilter out polluting fertilizers, pesticides and sediments so that the toxins do not infiltratethe groundwater (Wolton, 2012). Hedgerows also decrease soil erosion by reducing windspeeds and water runoff. This effect is of particular importance to the UBC farm as thehedgerows are located on a slope, which makes the area more vulnerable to erosive processessuch as flooding and excessive wind (Menzies, 2013).AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 10 of 16By taking into account the importance of the presence of hedgerows and their function,it is imperative that the use of miscanthus does not inhibit any of the hedgerows properties.The research conducted for this investigation indicates that miscanthus not only upholdsthe environmental benefits of hedgerows, but also is beneficial to the farm in the followingways (Kludze et al., 2011):• Releases nutrients and moisture back to its roots each year• Serves as a habitat for farmland bird population• Can be grown organically• Sequesters Carbon• It is a noninvasive species• Rapid growth (up to 3.5 m in one growing season)• Consistent annual yield• High energy output to input ratio• Releases nutrients and moisture back into its roots as it senesces• Facilitates water filtration• Mitigates runoffFurthermore, if the hedgerows are converted into miscanthus crop, it has the potentialto increase the farmland biodiversity significantly. As the investigation by Bellamy et al.(2008) suggests, miscanthus is an ideal habitat for farmland bird populations, providingsufficient shelter in the winter season. During the birds’ breeding season, the miscanthuscrop plants house a greater number of insects, a food source (see Figure 4). These benefits,however, are likely to diminish with the age of the crop and wildlife management will berequired to maintain the ecological benefits that miscanthus has introduced (Bellamy et al.,2008).AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 11 of 16Figure 4: Mean breeding abundance of bird species groups and density of individual birdspecies recorded breeding (territories 50-100 % within the crop) in miscanthus and wheatfields. Figure reprinted from Bellamy et al. (2008)To quantify miscanthus’ beneficial impact towards the environment, it is important toconsider the interactions between the UBC Farm and the BRDF as miscanthus transformsfrom a crop to a fuel. As a biofuel, miscanthus has a very high energy density, which meansit is very efficient in being converted into energy (Kludze et al., 2011). This property makesmiscanthus an ideal fuel to be used in the BRDF. Moreover, it is important to note thatthe BRDF has two modes of operation: combined heat and power (CHP) mode and thermalmode, so the miscanthus impact to the environment changes depending on which mode theBRDF is running in. The CHP mode is when the facility is running ideally and producesboth electricity, whereas thermal energy and the thermal mode is when the BRDF producesonly thermal energy. In the CHP mode of operation, the miscanthus sent from the farm willcontribute 1 dry ton of biofuel to the BRDF’s annual consumption of 12,500 dry tonnes,which means 0.008% of the BRDF’s annual energy production will be produced from themiscanthus. This translates to 1,200 kWh of energy per year, and avoided carbon dioxideemissions of 0.4 tonnes per year Nexterra Energy Corp. (2013). Alternatively, when theBRDF is running in thermal mode (its current configuration), the miscanthus will produce1.6 lbs/hour of steam. This directly translates to 0.002% of the current campus use of thermalenergy. In other words, it displaces 0.002% of the thermal energy (for heating) otherwisereceived from natural gas. From the above discussion, it is evident that the amount ofmiscanthus provided by the UBC farm does not have any significant impact in the productionof energy at the BRDF. Furthermore, the miscanthus itself does not contribute significantlyin the reduction of GHGs.AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 12 of 16EnvironmentalIndicatorGrowing Phase Mature Phase Type of ImpactBiodiversity/ Plantsand Animals- +Has a negative impact in the beginning, whilstinitially growing (consequences such as shading),due to displacement of existing hedgerows.Overall, it is expected that somespecies will reap the benefits, while others loseout. Also, a positive impact onbiodiversity is thefacilitation of a bird habitat.Water Quality + +Miscanthus acts as a water filter and providesan infiltration system for any toxic material thatmay be found on the surface. Also minimalfertilizer is required.Air Quality + +Potential to have a positive impact on air qualitydue to the low processing required by the UBCFarm and a reduction in allergens in the localecosystem.Soil Structure - +May improve soil structure due to miscanthus’deep rooting system, but these effects are onlypossible for when the crop is relatively mature.Fossil Fuel + +Positive impact due to some displacement offossil fuel energy is possible through the use ofmiscanthus as a biofuel at the BRDF. Impactsincrease as the crop matures and yield increases.Note that this impact is overall, not verysignificant, due to the small scale of the project.Greenhouse GasEmissions+ +Direct reduction of GHGs through carbonsequestration and indirection reduction ofGHGs by way of using less fertilizer and bybeing used as a biofuel at the BRDF(displacement of energy that would havecreated more GHGs).Table 5: Summary of the main points of the ecological assessment, where + indicates apositive impact and - indicates a negative impact.AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 13 of 16In the local scope, it is clear that converting the hedgerows to a miscanthus biofuel cropintroduces net positive impacts (see Table 5). The surrounding environment benefits by thepresence of miscanthus as it provides soil stabilization, water filtration, wildlife shelter, andprotection from excessive wind (Heaton, 2010). Due to the low amount of biomass producedover its life cycle, the crop does not make a significant impact in energy production orGHG emission reduction. However, these results do not effect miscanthus’ standing in thisassessment. Miscanthus is seen as largely beneficial to the local ecological systems at UBCand should be very seriously considered.3.2 UPSCALE DISCUSSIONThe scale at which the UBC Farm has proposed its project is too small to createany dramatic changes in the environment or in the production of energy. However, if it isscaled up to a larger project or replicated to a larger scale, there can be significant impactsto the environment and energy production. A study conducted by Hughes et al. (2010)concludes that large scale use of miscanthus could, by an upper estimate, reduce atmosphericcarbon dioxide concentrations by 162 ppmv by the end of the century. This reduction inconcentration is extremely significant as the carbon dioxide levels since the pre-industrial erato the present have increased by 100 ppmv. A large scale miscanthus project can effectivelyremediate this increase (Hughes et al., 2010).Although the scale of the project is small at the UBC Farm, the project can play arole in demonstrating to other organizations and farms that miscanthus as a hedgerow orfarm margin crop is an option to be seriously considered. If enough organizations becomeinvolved, the positive ecological impact will grow and eventually become substantial.AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 14 of 164.0 SOCIAL ASSESSMENTThe final criteria of the triple bottom line evaluation is the social impact of growingmiscanthus giganteus at UBC Farm. Considering that the cost of the project and its en-vironmental impacts are both very small, the primary indicator of this evaluation will bethe social impact. In order to analyze the social impact of the project, the following discus-sion will consider the social outcomes expected at UBC and abroad from implementing thisproject.4.1 LOCAL SCOPESome of the immediate social benefits that will result from this project will take placedirectly at UBC Farm. For example, the volunteers and staff who will come together toplan and manage the growth of miscanthus at UBC Farm will likely develop a sense ofcamaraderie. Ideally, this project will be a subject of pride for those involved. It should alsobe inspiring to students, professors, researchers, and visitors at UBC. Energy production isan issue that receives a lot of attention, so it should be encouraging for others to see thatUBC is truly putting forth an effort into improving modern practices. For that matter,this project has educational value for students in many faculties. UBC could incorporateinformation and lessons learned from this project into curriculum and research opportunities.Furthermore, students could have the chance to get involved on a first hand basis throughvolunteering at UBC Farm.The operational side of implementing the project will also broaden the relationshipsbetween institutions at UBC. The BRDF and UBC Farm are not currently involved with oneanother, so this will help integrate the campus (Menzies, 2013). Furthermore, UBC PlantOperations may be able to become involved by providing equipment and extra labour, asnecessary.4.2 GREATER COMMUNITYThe vision of UBC Farm is to be “a world-class academic resource and a central part ofUBC’s sustainability aspirations, enabling UBC to explore and exemplify new globally signif-icant paradigms for the design and function of sustainable communities and their ecologicalsupport systems” (UBC Farm, 2009). This is a large and important role. The demonstra-tions that take place at UBC Farm are very influential to others. With this in mind, aspectsof the project investigated in this report could encourage other farms to produce bioenergyon scales larger than what is proposed here. This could influence new trends in the agri-AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 15 of 16cultural industry and provide a significant amount of support for green energy production.Other universities and municipalities may also take an interest in UBC’s efforts and considertaking on small-scale projects of their own to make use of marginal lands. As more groupsget involved with developing bioenergy crops, there will be a greater understanding of theirpotential and projects will increase in their effectiveness.AN INVESTIGATION INTO PRODUCING BIOENERGY AT THE UBC FARM Page 16 of 165.0 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONIn summary, a preliminary analysis indicated that miscanthus giganteus was the bestof three crops to consider producing at UBC Farm (see Appendix B). Its properties weredetermined to be more promising for energy production than switchgrass, and it is expectedto produce a higher yield than hybrid poplar. In addition, miscanthus is fairly easy toremove at the end of its 15-year life cycle, unlike poplar, which produces a large taproot thatis extremely difficult to remove. UBC Farm incorporates many educational projects on itsproperty, so the flexibility gained by being able to easily remove miscanthus in the future isvery important to consider.Conducting a triple bottom line assessment brought the investigation to the conclusionthat growing miscanthus giganteus at UBC Farm has a net positive impact overall. Theeconomic projections for the project indicate a small financial commitment from UBC Farm,but the project should be considered a worthwhile investment based on the long-term envi-ronmental and social benefits. The initiative has potential for growth in scope and it willideally promote understanding and interest in the use of biomass for energy production.It is recommended that UBC proceed with planning an effective means of growingmiscanthus giganteus on the available land at UBC Farm. Some testing will be requiredprior to introducing the crop to the BRDF processing circuit to ensure that the final productmeets the required specifications for energy production, but this is the only major foreseeableobstacle based on this investigation.REFERENCESAgriculture and Agri-Food Canada. (2012, March). Canadian Farm Fuel and Fertilizer:Prices and Expenses. Retrieved from Hydro. (2013, April). Business rate prices. Retrieved from, P., Croxton, P., Heard, M., Hinsley, S., Hulmes, L., Nuttall, P., . . . Rothery, P.(2008). The impact of growing miscanthus for biomass on farmland bird populations.Biomass and Bioenergy , 33 , 191-199.Google Maps. (2013). UBC Farm, Vancouver, British Columbia (StreetMap). Retrieved from AUoAgHeaton, E. (2010, January). Giant miscanthus for biomass production. Retrieved from, J. K., Lloyd, A. J., Huntingford, C., Finch, J. W., & Harding, R. J. (2010). Theimpact of extensive planting of Miscanthus as an energy crop on future CO2 atmosphericconcentrations. GCB Bioenergy , 2 , 79-88. doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2010.01042.xKhanna, M., & Huang, H. (2010). The breakeven costs of producing alternative feedstocksfor cellulosic biofuels. Energy, Biosciences Institute.Kludze, H., Deen, B., & Dutta, A. (2011). Report on literature review of agronomicpractices for energy crop production under Ontario conditions (Tech. Rep.). Univer-sity of Guelph. Retrieved from (Manuscript submitted for publication,Department of Agriculture)Menzies, K. (2013, October 8). Interview.Nexterra Energy Corp. (2007, November 20). Nexterra typical wood fuel specifications.ivNexterra Energy Corp. (2013, March). UBC bioenergy research and demonstration facility.Retrieved from UBC-20130321FINAL EMAIL.pdfUBC Farm. (2009). Vision. Retrieved from Sustainability. (2013). UBC Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility.Retrieved from Department of Energy. (2013). Most and least efficient trucks. Retrieved from, Z., Han, J., & Wang, M. (2013). Material and energy flows into the production ofcellulosic feedstocks for biofuels for the greet model. U.S. Department of Energy, ArgonneNational Laboratory .Wolton, R. (2012, February). What hedges do for us. Retrieved from,%20V2,%2020%20Mar%202012,%20Rob%20Wolton,%20Hedgelink.pdfvAPPENDICESAPPENDIX A       Last Updated: November 20, 2007 NEXTERRA TYPICAL WOOD FUEL SPECIFICATIONS  The Nexterra Gasifier System is designed to operate on fuel having the following specifications:  A. Fuel Size Wood residue must be sized to 3 in. minus in all dimensions. Long fibers or sticks that are longer than 3 in. in length are not acceptable. Residues sized less than 1/4 in. must be limited to 25 percent or less.   B. Fuel Composition Wood residue must be a clean fresh mix free of substances foreign to natural composi ion of wood such as preserving chemicals, paint, processing chemicals, glues, sulphurous, phosphorous or nitrogenous chemicals that might be classified as hazardous or appear in flue gas or ash. The fuel should be free of nails or other metal strips. The wood fuel should be free of rotten material which evidences a state of decomposition. The wood fuel should be free of leafy greens or needles.   Fuel must be well mixed with a consistent moisture content level. The system will be able to accommodate seasonal fluctuations in moisture content.   C. Ultimate and Proximate Analysis The proximate and ultimate analysis of the design fuel on a dry weight basis for performance calculations is as follows:  Proximate Analysis Component  Moisture Content (wet basis) 10-55% Volatile Content 70-85% Fixed Carbon 15-25% Ash <10% Higher Heating Value (HHV) > 8500 btu/lb    D. Ash Content Wood fuel may contain less than 5% dry basis inorganic material including materials that are part of the normal composition of wood as well as materials that are not part of the makeup of natural wood. The initial deformation temperature (IDT) of ash must be greater than 2100 ° F.  Ultimate Analysis Component  Carbon 48-52% Hydrogen 5-6% Oxygen 36-44% Nitrogen <0.300% Sulphur <0.025% Chlorine <0.025% Total 100% viAPPENDIX Bvii


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