Indirect land use change effects in consequential Life Cycle Assessment of bioenergy


CALL: 2009

DOMAIN: SR - Sustainable Agro-Systems Management


LAST NAME: Benetto




KEYWORDS: Life Cycle Assessment

START: 2010-04-01

END: 2013-03-31


Submitted Abstract

The promotion of renewable energies, such as biomass, is at the heart of the EuropeanCommunity’s policy actions since a decade. The use of agricultural crops for energy purposes(e.g. biomethane production) has, however, other non-climate-related environmental impactssuch as eutrophication and acidification due to fertilizer runoff. The most consensualmethodology to evaluate the overall environmental impact associated with the production ofenergy from agricultural crops is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA – ISO 14040-44). In the field ofbioenergy, comparative LCAs of bioenergy production are usually of the “attributional” type, i.e.use average data and assume that the bioenergy production lifecycle does not affect othersystems. However the consequences of the increased use of bioenergy on other systems canactually affect other economic systems, e.g. the food chain. Thus, there is a need forincorporating the actual affected processes into the scope of the LCA and to evaluate therelated consequences. Such a type of methodological approach is usually referred to as“consequential LCA – CLCA”. The main scientific objective of LUCAS is to provide anoperational methodology for the inclusion of indirect effects of land use changes into CLCA ofbioenergy and then to apply the methodology to the case of biomethane production from energymaize in Rédange, Luxembourg. The case of maize has been chosen mainly because of thesignificant experience, data and information available from the years, which will facilitate thedevelopment and application of the CLCA methodology. CLCA of land use effects focuses onfarming activities, which are recognized to be the main contributors to the LCA of bioenergy,thus keeping the scope of the study feasible.The project includes the development and application of a partial equilibrium model (PEM)aimed at illustrating the Luxembourg’s economy and quantitatively describing land use changeeffects related to biomethane production from energy crops. This objective will provideinnovative knowledge on the pertinence and efficiency of the use of such a model in LCA andon how to practically include/combine such a model into a LCA model and software.Furthermore, LUCAS represents an ideal case study and showcase in view of the definition ofconsequential life cycle inventory data collection procedures, not limited to the agriculturalsector. The combination of conventional and input-output based impact assessmentapproaches into a common framework will provide innovative scientific knowledge.Beside the scientific objectives, LUCAS is aimed at supporting decision – making process forthe future development of bionergy in Luxembourg. Despite the consequential approachfocuses only on the farming step, the results gathered from the CLCA of biomethane willcertainly highlight the main environmental issues related to the large scale implementation ofsuch technology. Furthermore, the CLCA model (and especially the PEM part) is intended to beopen to new developments and additions in the future and could therefore represent a basis forfurther research studies.

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