Title: Greenhouse gas budget of a poplar bioenergy plantation in Belgium: CO2 uptake outweighs CH4 and N2O emissions
Citation: GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY BIOENERGY vol. 11 no. 12 p. 1435-1443
Publisher: WILEY
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC117995
ISSN: 1757-1693 (online)
URI: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC117995
DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12648
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Biomass from short‐rotation coppice (SRC) of woody perennials is being increasingly used as a bioenergy source to replace fossil fuels, but accurate assessments of the long‐term greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of SRC are lacking. To evaluate its mitigation potential, we monitored the GHG balance of a poplar (Populus) SRC in Flanders, Belgium, over 7 years comprising three rotations (i.e., two 2 year rotations and one 3 year rotation). In the beginning—that is, during the establishment year and during each year immediately following coppicing—the SRC plantation was a net source of GHGs. Later on—that is, during each second or third year after coppicing—the site shifted to a net sink. From the sixth year onward, there was a net cumulative GHG uptake reaching −35.8 Mg CO2 eq/ha during the seventh year. Over the three rotations, the total CO2 uptake was −51.2 Mg CO2/ha, while the emissions of CH4 and N2O amounted to 8.9 and 6.5 Mg CO2 eq/ha, respectively. As the site was non‐fertilized, non‐irrigated, and only occasionally flooded, CO2 fluxes dominated the GHG budget. Soil disturbance after land conversion and after coppicing were the main drivers for CO2 losses. One single N2O pulse shortly after SRC establishment contributed significantly to the N2O release. The results prove the potential of SRC biomass plantations to reduce GHG emissions and demonstrate that, for the poplar plantation under study, the high CO2 uptake outweighs the emissions of non‐CO2 greenhouse gases.
JRC Directorate:Energy, Transport and Climate

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