Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Jerry D. Murphy

Second Advisor

Dr. Eamon McKeogh


It is not an understatement to say that a global crisis is approaching and at an alarming pace. It is a widely accepted fact that within the next few years, a change is going to take place. The sources we currently rely on to power our economies are already in an alarmingly depleted state, there is a necessity to find a new source or sources of energy. In addition to this, the global consequences of our past actions on the environment are also coming to the front, with climate change and ozone depletion making international headlines on an almost daily basis.

The only option to resolve the impending fuel crisis and to stem the damage already done to the environment is to obtain our fuel from a cleaner, plentiful source of energy. Biofuel is one such example of a source of energy to be considered as a substitute or at least partial substitute for the fossil fuels used in the past.

The purpose of this thesis is to establish whether Miscanthus is a viable source of energy for Ireland. The initial chapters explore the concept of a biomass fuel and the factors that have contributed to the need for a change in the way that energy is sourced. Following this, a detailed description is given of what is currently believed to be the most effective means of extracting power from a fuel source, CUP (combined heat and power). The advantages of a CHP plant as opposed to a regular power generation facility are explained and demonstrated.

Following the description of the current technologies in Power Generation, biomass fuel crops are examined. Two crops in particular are compared, both to each other and to existing fossil fuels. These two crops are Miscanthus {Miscanthus Giganteus) and Short Rotation Coppice (SRC). The full life-cycle of both these crops, from the initial selection of an area in which to grow the crop, to the harvest and final processing of the crop at a power generation facility. An examination is undertaken from both environmental and economical sides, before a conclusion is given on which would be best suited to the Irish climate and whether they would outperform other sources of energy available. Research shows that even a 7% take up of Miscanthus on suitable land (243kha) produces a potential for 15% of electrical energy.

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