Title: Soil Organic Carbon Changes in the Cultivation of Energy Crops: Implications for GHG Balances and Soil Quality for Use in LCA
Citation: BIOMASS & BIOENERGY vol. 35 no. 6 p. 2323-2336
Publication Year: 2011
JRC N°: JRC56583
ISSN: 0961-9534
URI: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0961953409002402#
DOI: 10.1016/j.biombioe.2009.10.019
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The environmental impact of different land-use systems for energy, up to the farm or forest ¿¿gate¿¿, has been quantified with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Four representative crops are considered: OilSeed Rape (OSR), Miscanthus, Short-Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow and forest residues. The focus of the LCA is on changes in Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) but energy use, emissions of GreenHouse Gases (GHGs), acidification and eutrophication are also considered. In addition to providing an indicator of soil quality, changes in SOC are shown to have a dominant effect on total GHG emissions. Miscanthus is the best land-use option for GHG emissions and soil quality as it sequesters C at a higher rate than the other crops, but this has to be weighed against other environmental impacts where Miscanthus performs worse, such as acidification and eutrophication. OSR shows the worst performance across all categories. Because forest residues are treated as a by-product, their environmental impacts are small in all categories. The analysis highlights the need for detailed site-specific modelling of SOC changes, and for consequential LCAs of the whole fuel cycle including transport and use.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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