Environmental performance of gasified willow from different lands including land-use changes

Koldo Saez de Bikuna Salinas, Michael Zwicky Hauschild, Kim Pilegaard, Andreas Ibrom

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    A life-cycle assessment (LCA) of a low-input, short rotation coppice (SRC) willow grown on different Danish lands was performed. Woodchips are gasified, producer gas is used for co-generation of heat and power (CHP) and the ash-char output is applied as soil amendment in the field. A hybrid model was developed for the estimation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from indirect land-use changes (iLUC) induced by willow cropping on arable land. For this, area expansion results from a general equilibrium economic model were combined with global LUC trends to differentiate between land transformation (as additional agricultural expansion, in areas with historical deforestation) and occupation (as delayed relaxation, DR, in areas with historical land abandonment) impacts. A biophysical approach was followed to determine the iLUCfeed emissions factor from marginal grassland. Land transformation impacts were derived from latest world deforestation statistics, while a commercial feed mix of equivalent nutritive value was assumed to substitute the displaced grass as fodder. Intensification effects were included in both iLUC factors as additional N-fertilizer consumption. Finally, DR impacts were considered for abandoned farmland, as a relative C stock loss compared to natural regeneration. ILUC results show that area related GHG emissions are dominant (93% of iLUCfood and 80% of iLUCfeed), transformation being more important (82% of iLUCfood) than occupation (11%) impacts. LCA results show that CHP from willow emits 4,047 kg CO2-eq haoccup−1 (or 0.8 gCO2-eq MJ−1) when grown on arable land, while sequestering 43,745 kg CO2-eq haoccup−1 (or -10.4 gCO2-eq MJ−1) when planted on marginal pastureland, and 134,296 kg CO2-eq haoccup−1 (or -31.8 gCO2-eq MJ−1) when marginal abandoned land is cultivated. Increasing the bioenergy potential without undesirable iLUC effects, especially relevant regarding biodiversity impacts, requires that part of the marginally used extensive grasslands are released from their current use or energy cropping on abandoned farmland incentivized.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGCB Bioenergy
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)756-769
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Bioenergy
    • SRC willow
    • LCA
    • iLUC
    • Marginal land
    • Gasification
    • Biochar


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