Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a perennial grass that grows natively in Canada and the United States. It is one of the dominant species of plant in the American prairie. Initially used only for erosion control and ornamentation, the grass has recently found use as a biofuel and for the production of biodegradable plastics.
Switchgrass is considered a moderate to high yield plant, which means it isn’t as prolific as Jatropha, but provides better growth in the North America than corn or soybean. What makes switchgrass really interesting is that it can be used to make ethanol, but it can also be burned directly for thermal applications, such as the production of electricity. The lack of conversion steps makes switchgrass easy to use and relatively efficient in terms of energy input versus energy obtained from it.
The energy investment into switchgrass is about three and a half times less than the energy investment for grain or corn. Further, an investment of up to 1.34 gigajoules of energy into switchgrass yields up to 2.66 gigajoules in return. So, switchgrass is a net energy producer unlike many biofuel feedstocks. Cost compared to corn is about 50%, make switchgrass more attractive for ethanol production as well.