Sustainability Protocols and Certification Criteria for Switchgrass-Based Bioenergy

Pralhad Burli, Pankaj Lal, Bernabas Wolde, Janaki Alavalapati

Abstract


Production of bioenergy from cellulosic sources is likely to increase due to mandates, tax incentives, and subsidies. However, unchecked growth in the bioenergy industry has the potential to adversely influence land use, biodiversity, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and water resources. It may have unintended environmental and socioeconomic consequences. Against this backdrop, it is important to develop standards and protocols that ensure sustainable bioenergy production, promote the benefits of biofuels, and avoid or minimize potential adverse outcomes. This paper highlights agronomic information on switchgrass, a high-potential bioenergy feedstock, and the role of specialized certification programs. The existing sustainability standards and protocols were reviewed in order to identify key gaps that justify a certification program specifically for switchgrass-based bioenergy. The criteria and indicators that should be considered for such a certification program are outlined.

Keywords


Bioenergy; Certification; Sustainability; Protocols; Indicators; Switchgrass

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