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Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020098

Szarvasi-1 and Its Potential to Become a Substitute for Maize Which Is Grown for the Purposes of Biogas Plants in the Czech Republic

Department of Agroecosystems, Faculty of Agriculture, University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Branišovská 1457, 370 05 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
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Received: 21 January 2019 / Revised: 11 February 2019 / Accepted: 17 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forage and Bioenergy Crops)
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Abstract

The domestic biogas market has been developing rapidly, and legislation (The Act) supporting the use of renewable energy sources has come into force. In light of this act and investment support from national programs co-financed by the European Union (EU), the total number of biogas plants has recently increased from a few to 600. The total capacity of electricity generation of those 600 installed plants exceeds 360 Megawatts (MW) (as of mid-2018). Such dynamic growth is expected to continue, and the targets of the National Renewable Energy Action Plan are projected to be met. The use of waste material, which was urgently needed, was the original aim of biogas plants. However, in certain cases, the original purpose has transformed, and phytomass is very often derived from purpose-grown energy crops. Maize is the most common and widely grown energy crop in the Czech Republic. Nevertheless, maize production raises several environmental issues. One way to potentially reduce maize’s harmful effects is to replace it with other suitable crops. Perennial energy crops, for example, are possible alternatives to maize. A newly introduced species for the conditions of the Czech Republic, Elymus elongatus subsp. ponticus cv. Szarvasi-1, and some other well-known species—Phalaris arundinacea L. and Miscanthus × giganteus—are suitable for Czech Republic climate conditions. This paper presents the findings of the research and evaluation of environmental, energy-related, and economic aspects of growing these crops for use in biogas plants. These findings are based on 5-year small-plot field trials. The energy-related aspects of producing Elymus elongatus subsp. ponticus cv. Szarvasi-1, Phalaris arundinacea L., and Miscanthus x giganteus are reported on the basis of experiments that included measuring the real methane yield from a production unit. The economic analysis is based on a model of every single growing and technological operation and costs. The environmental burden of the individual growing methods was assessed with a simplified life cycle assessment (LCA) using the impact category of Climate Change and the SimaPro 8.5.2.0 software tool, including an integrated method called ReCiPe. The research findings show that Szarvasi-1 produces 5.7–6.7 Euros (EUR) per Gigajoule (GJ) of energy, depending on the growing technology used. Szarvasi-1 generates an average energy profit of 101.4 GJ ha−1, which is half of that produced by maize (214.1 GJ ha−1). The environmental burden per energy unit of maize amounts to 16 kg of carbon dioxide eq GJ−1 compared with the environmental burden per energy unit of Szarvasi-1, which amounts to 7.2–15.6 kg of CO2 eq GJ−1, depending on the yield rate. On the basis of the above-mentioned yield rate of Szarvasi-1, it cannot be definitively recommended for the purpose of biogas plants in the Czech Republic. View Full-Text
Keywords: Szarvasi-1; biogas; environmental aspects; economy Szarvasi-1; biogas; environmental aspects; economy
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Bernas, J.; Moudrý, J., Jr.; Kopecký, M.; Konvalina, P.; Štěrba, Z. Szarvasi-1 and Its Potential to Become a Substitute for Maize Which Is Grown for the Purposes of Biogas Plants in the Czech Republic. Agronomy 2019, 9, 98.

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