Dec. 19, 2008, Guelph, Ont. - Seas of prairie grasses are now blowing in the wind on farms in Eastern Canada.
With wood pellets becoming scarce and fossil fuel prices on a roller coaster,
native grasses turned into pellets may just be one of our most important fuels
of the future.
Compared to growing high-input field crops, some farmers believe switchgrass is
the way ahead to creating a green energy prosperity from the farm and badly
needed jobs in rural towns. The emergence of farm-derived grass pellets could
be one of the important success stories to help Canada get away from the economic
doldrums and environmental blues.
A study by Canadian and Dutch scientists just released in a book by Springer
Publishers found that grass pellet biofuels have set a new Canadian benchmark in
greenhouse gas (GHG) displacement. Switchgrass pellets as a solid biofuel
technology from energy crops for heat energy can reduce GHGs by 7,600 to
13,100 kg CO2e/ha. By comparison, corn ethanol in Ontario was found to reduce
GHG's by 1,500 kg CO2e/ha. (CO2e = equivalent carbon dioxide.)
CONFERENCE OPENING SESSION
Solid biofuels produced from
second-generation energy crops will be covered during the opening session of
the 28th annual Guelph Organic Conference, Expo & Tasting Fair, being held
from Jan. 22-25, 2009, at the Guelph University Centre in Ontario. The opening
session will be held Thursday, Jan. 22, from 1 to 5 p.m.
“Solid biofuels produced from
second-generation energy crops, such as switchgrass, effectively blow away
liquid biofuels like corn ethanol as a serious greenhouse gas mitigation
option,” explains Roger Samson, executive director of REAP-Canada and lead
author of the study.
GETTING BACK TO BASICS
This symposium will feature leading
technical specialists and farmers from the Great Lakes region who are
developing warm-season grasses for energy. Specific topics to be covered by
leading experts from New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Quebec include:
* Best management practices for establishing native grasses.
* Available native grass cultivars and potential to improve yield through
* Recent technology developments for improving mowing and baling of energy
* Creating biomass quality in grasses to ensure high quality combustion.
* Experiences with low-cost briquetting of switchgrass and burning warm-season
grasses in commercial boilers.
ABOUT THE GUELPH CONFERENCE
Celebrating its 28th year, the four-day event includes international speakers,
seminars and introductory workshops on frontline topics including GMOs, organic
production and certification, food in a changing climate, eco-villages, earth
buildings, farmland protection and food security. From producer to consumer,
the workshops offer something for everyone.
Also featured will be the Organic Expo and
Tasting Fair with the more than 160 exhibitors on Saturday and Sunday, free to
the public. This is your opportunity to sample and purchase a plethora of
organic, fair trade products and meet the makers, movers and shakers.
For more information and to register, visit www.guelphorganicconf.ca.