UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into the production of fuelstock at UBC Farm for energy creation and GHG reduction Baum, Jackie; Hamidizadeh, Ramin; Stuart, Cam; Uifalusi, Michael


UBC Farm stakeholders are investigating the potential of biofuel production for the purpose of energy generation and greenhouse gas reduction. This paper examines a triple bottom line assessment for the addition of Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus) biofuel to UBC farm margins and hedgerows. The methodology behind choosing Miscanthus rather than Alder or Willow is discussed as well as background information for this perennial plant. An annual yield of 15t/ha was estimated for an overall available area of 1ha. A cost analysis determined an establishment cost of $650USD for a 1ha plot of Giant Miscanthus and a literature study allowed for estimating operating costs to be roughly $30/t DM. A sensitivity analysis determined annual net project economics of $274-823. To add value for the farm and campus community, insight is given into the social implications of planting and harvesting biofuels. It was determined that many relationships can be gained and nurtured through collaborations with fellow researchers and communities including native groups and prospective biofuel growers. It is expected that educational opportunities will arise from the plantations in both agroforestry and biofuel research as well as both student body and community volunteer opportunities. Biofuel crops on the farm are also expected to give UBC a stronger overall image as an environmental leader in GHG reduction. In investigating the environmental implications of growing a biofuel crop at the farm, understanding the carbon footprint and green energy offset as well as agricultural and wildlife impacts is necessary. The carbon savings compared to the current acquisition process is approximately 140 kg and is further reduced through human labor harvest by ~40 kg. The estimated green energy output annually is 62.5MWh which equates to 225GJ. By planting Miscanthus hedgerows animal corridors are created as well as habitat for pollinators. Furthermore, soil erosion is prevented and wind shelter for neighboring crops is provided. Although the environmental and economic considerations are important, the social implications were paramount in coming to the conclusion that this project should proceed. The project is revenue generating but relatively insignificant. 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.”

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