Multifunctional perennial production systems for bioenergy: performance and progress
Review article, 2020

WIREs Energy and Environment published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. As the global population increases and becomes more affluent, biomass demands for food and biomaterials will increase. Demand growth is further accelerated by the implementation of climate policies and strategies to replace fossil resources with biomass. There are, however, concerns about the size of the prospective biomass demand and the environmental and social consequences of the corresponding resource mobilization, especially concerning impacts from the associated land-use change. Strategically integrating perennials into landscapes dominated by intensive agriculture can, for example, improve biodiversity, reduce soil erosion and nutrient emissions to water, increase soil carbon, enhance pollination, and avoid or mitigate flooding events. Such “multifunctional perennial production systems” can thus contribute to improving overall land-use sustainability, while maintaining or increasing overall biomass productivity in the landscape. Seven different cases in different world regions are here reviewed to exemplify and evaluate (a) multifunctional production systems that have been established to meet emerging bioenergy demands, and (b) efforts to identify locations where the establishment of perennial crops will be particularly beneficial. An important barrier towards wider implementation of multifunctional systems is the lack of markets, or policies, compensating producers for enhanced ecosystem services and other environmental benefits. This deficiency is particularly important since prices for fossil-based fuels are low relative to bioenergy production costs. Without such compensation, multifunctional perennial production systems will be unlikely to contribute to the development of a sustainable bioeconomy. This article is categorized under: Bioenergy > Systems and Infrastructure Bioenergy > Climate and Environment Energy Policy and Planning > Climate and Environment.

land use

perennial crops


multifunctional production systems



Oskar Englund

Englund GeoLab

Mid Sweden University

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

Ioannis Dimitriou

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

V. H. Dale

University of Tennessee

K. L. Kline

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Blas Mola-Yudego

University of Eastern Finland

Fionnuala Murphy

University College Dublin

Burton English

University of Tennessee

John McGrath

McGrath Forestry Services

Gerald Busch

Bureau for Applied Landscape Ecology and Scenario Analysis - BALSA

M. C. Negri

Argonne National Laboratory

M. Brown

University of the Sunshine Coast

Kevin Goss

Kevin Goss Consulting

Sam Jackson

Genera Energy Inc.

E. S. Parish

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Jules Cacho

Argonne National Laboratory

Colleen R. Zumpf

Argonne National Laboratory

John Quinn

Argonne National Laboratory

Shruti K. Mishra

Argonne National Laboratory

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment

2041-8396 (ISSN) 2041-840X (eISSN)

Vol. 9 5 e375

Subject Categories

Renewable Bioenergy Research

Other Environmental Engineering

Energy Systems



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