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Socio-Economic Opportunities From Miscanthus Cultivation In Marginal Land For Bioenergy

Calliope Panoutsou, David Chiaramonti

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Substantial areas of agricultural land in south European countries are becoming increasingly marginal and being abandoned due to arid climate with prolonged summers and low rainfall. Perennial, lignocellulosic crops, such as Miscanthus, offer an outlet that couples agriculture with energy, creates employment, and increases profits from feedstock production in rural areas. This research paper follows an Input Output methodology and uses an econometric model to investigate the impact of crop yielding performance and marginal land to jobs and profit from the cultivation and supply of Miscanthus in low quality, marginal land in Italy and Greece. Two value chain cases are analysed: small scale Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and Fast Pyrolysis Bio Oil (FPBO). The cultivation of Miscanthus in both reference value chains exhibits good employment prospects, with smaller scale value chains creating more labour-intensive logistics operations. The activities can also generate substantial financial profit especially with higher crop yields. Results show a pronounced relationship between profitability and crop yield for both reference value chains - cultivation and supply operations become more profitable with increasing yield. It is, therefore, important to achieve higher yields through good cropping practices, while maintaining high levels of environmental sustainability.