Field to Furnace - A Social Cost-Benefit Analysis of Growing Switchgrass on Inactive and Underused Farmland in Nova Scotia for the Residential Heating Market
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Energy crops may present an opportunity to reduce Nova Scotia’s Greenhouse Gas emissions by offsetting fossil fuel use and provide economic benefits for farmers. They have also received government policy support. To investigate this opportunity, I conduct a partial social cost-benefit analysis using non-equity weighted monetary valuation of growing switchgrass on inactive and underused farmland in Nova Scotia for local residential heating. The private net benefit for farmers, processors and consumers is estimated between $24.9 million and $209.9 million. I estimate that the external net benefit to society from the potential reduction in GHG emissions (at $50/tonne CO2E) ranges from $11.3 million to $72.2 million. This must be taken with caution as the analysis does not account for the entire ecological footprint of the project. While a net benefit to society is suggested, the paper also points to a need for more research surrounding the life-cycle emissions of energy crops.