Switchgrass: A Local, Sustainable, Cost-Saving Biofuel

Panicum virgatum, better known as switchgrass, just might be the most versatile grass around. Like other native warm season grasses (NWSG), it’s highly resilient to extreme temperatures and droughts and immune to toxic bacteria and fungus such endophyte. Endophyte can cause numerous issues in livestock and other cattle, including weight fluctuation, digestive issues, low rates of reproduction, and other health problems. 

Additionally, switchgrass provides protective cover for soil, shelter for wildlife, and decoration for landscaping. As if that wasn’t enough, switchgrass can be harvested and utilized as biofuel. 

Replacing Fuel Oil with Switchgrass to Save Money and the World 

While many cities and large-scale facilities are utilizing the power of the wind and the sun to generate energy, fossil fuels such as fuel oil are still prevalent. Though ultimately effective at producing heat and energy, burning fuel oil is costly, and it releases excess carbon into the air. 

Additionally, fuel oil is a limited resource that takes a very long time to form. Most of the oil fields we draw from today date back hundreds of millions of years. While the exact timeline of when we might run out of crude oil is continuously debated, it is strongly believed we’ll run out in less than 100 years.  

This is where biofuel comes into play. Biofuel technically refers to any fuel that’s created from biomass, renewable plant or animal material used for the production of energy. Because biomass is naturally occurring, it’s renewable, sustainable, and better for the environment. 

Due to its conservation-friendly attributes, benefits for wildlife, and general compatibility with modern farming practices, switchgrass is an excellent choice for biofuel. It’s even recommended by the DOE’s Bioenergy Feedstock Development Program. 

Though replacing a fuel oil burner can be costly upfront, the increased efficiency can quickly pay for itself thanks to the savings on fuel. For example, a Virginia hospital that switched to burning native switchgrass is now saving $1,800-$2,200 per day on fuel cost. 

Not only does it save money, but it’s better for the environment. Switchgrass is a renewable resource that burns cleaner and reduces carbon emissions. Since switchgrass typically comes from local suppliers, it’s also better for your local economy. 

Connecting the Biofuel Supply Chain 

At FDCE, we work with both farmers converting land to NWSG through programs like CRP, as well as large scale facilities converting to biofuel alternatives. This puts us in the perfect position to connect supply with demand, creating local, sustainable fuel solutions. 

Whether you’re a farmer or landowner looking to hire CRP contractors to establish NWSG such as switchgrass, or you’re a facility manager that’s ready to switch to biofuel, we can assist. Contact us today to learn about what we can do for you.