Determination of Suitable Sites for Switchgrass Cultivation: A GIS and AHP Based Methodology for the case of Eskişehir
Nowadays, fossil fuels, which are used as the most common energy source, are running out rapidly. One of the most critical effects of fossil fuel consumption is global warming and climate change issues, resulting in a diversity of disasters in many regions of the world. Considering these consequences, the need for renewable energy sources is increasing rapidly. Biomass energy refers to energy obtained from organic masses or products, such as agricultural and animal waste. Since the turn of the twenty first century, cultivation of modern energy crops has become more preferable compared to agricultural products that require considerably higher amounts of water, and maintenance, are difficult to grow, and primarily valuable as food supplies. Therefore, the cultivation of energy crops is aimed at the production of clean energy, prevention of climate change, and a decrease in energy imports. Switchgrass, miscanthus, and sorghum are among these modern energy crops, on which cultivation trials and research studies have been conducted throughout the world, and also in Turkey. Within this context, the main goal of this study is the determination of the most suitable sites for switchgrass plants using a weighted overlay analysis technique via Geographical Information Systems (GIS) capabilities in Eskisehir, Turkey. During the analysis, a total of thirteen different data layers regarding topographic, geomorphological, and cultural characteristics have been used, and an Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method was utilized for the assignment of influencial factors and weights. The suitability range was divided into five classes; very high, high, medium, low, and very low suitablity land. The analysis results reveal that 8.40% of the total study area would be reserved for growing switchgrass plants in the study area. From this viewpoint, the distribution of the very high, high, medium, low, and very low suitable classes is found to be, 0.09%, 81.88%, 18.03%, 0%, and 0%, respectively, according to the manual classification method.
Keywords - Biomass, Energy Crops, Geographical Information System, Renewable Energy, Switchgrass.