In several policy documents bioenergy is recognized as an important renewable energy source in Italy. The increase in energy prices represents an opportunity for lignocellulosic energy crops such as acacia and poplar. However, for Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) and Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) to be adopted by farmers, these crops must be perceived to be at least as profitable as crops that normally compete with these plantations for land use. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the economic feasibility of acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia) as an energy crop in a low input production regime in Italy and, in particular, to consider its competitiveness with wheat. Our results show that neither SRC and SRF techniques using assumed production costs (€3820 and €5285 ha-1 yr-1) nor biomass productions are able to obtain a positive profit (-€184 and -€172 ha-1 yr-1) that can convince farmers to invest in biomass plantations on their land. The results demonstrate that wheat is a more economically secure option than SRC or SRF. The viability of local biomass production in Italy and Southern Europe depends on the active support of the governments; without them, biomass is not economically competitive for the farmers when compared to crops such as wheat. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Local production
- Renewable energy