Method for assessing the potential of miscanthus on marginal lands for high temperature heat demand: The case studies of France and Belgium

Martin Colla* (Corresponding Author), Davide Tonelli, Astley Hastings, Diederik Coppitters, Julien Blondeau, Hervé Jeanmart

*Corresponding author for this work

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Energy crops on marginal lands are seen as an interesting option to increase biomass contribution to the primary energy mix. However, in the literature there is currently a lack of integrated assessments of margin land availability, energy crop production potential and supply chain optimisation. Assessing the potential and the cost of these resources in a given region is therefore a difficult task. This work also emphasises the importance on a clear definition and discussion about marginal lands and the related ethical issues embedded in the concept to ensure positive societal impacts of the results. This study proposes a methodology to estimate and analyse, in terms of economic costs, the potential of miscanthus grown on marginal lands from the production to the final point of use. Different datasets are assembled and a supply chain optimisation model is developed to minimize the total cost of the system. Miscanthus is used as a representative energy crop for the Belgian and French case studies. High temperature heat demand is considered as final use. The miscanthus can be traded by truck either in the form of chips or pellets. The results show that the miscanthus on marginal lands could supply high temperature heat up to 38 TWh in France and 1.4 TWh in Belgium with an average cost of around 50 ?/t. The different sensitivity analyses showed that the yield variation has the strongest influence on the final cost, together with the distances and the cost of production of miscanthus. The main pattern observed is the local consumption of miscanthus chips and export of the surplus (if any) to the neighbouring regions. Pellets are only of marginal interest for France and are never observed for Belgium. Distances and availability of sufficient feedstocks are the two main parameters impacting the production of pellets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-381
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Change Biology. Bioenergy
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

This study was funded by the Energy Transition Fund of Belgium. This support is gratefully acknowledged. AH was funded by UKRI BB/V0115533/1 and ER/S029575/1 grants.


  • biomass potential
  • energy crops
  • high temperature heat
  • marginal lands
  • miscanthus
  • supply chain


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