Title: Energy and GHG emissions assessment of biodiesel production in Mato Grosso, Brazil
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
Publication Year: 2013
JRC N°: JRC81143
ISBN: 978-3-11-027584-1
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC81143
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The production of biofuels is closely related to the specific local features of the territory where they are developed. Biofuels have in fact important impacts on the local environment, including on land use and consequently on the local societal life. It is thus necessary to accurately develop bioenergy exploitation plans in order to maximize their potentiality, keeping at the same time under control all the other issues that may be of relevance in the local conditions. While the approach can thus be very general, the results strongly depends on the specific reality under consideration and can hardly be extended to other cases. This chapter illustrates a method to define a biofuel exploitation plan based on two phases. The first phase consists on the local analysis of the land and climate features in order to understand which type of crops can be successfully grown. This phase is performed at local scale using GIS data and software. Once this step is accomplished, the area can be divided into a number of cells (or parcels) that are small enough to be considered having the same soil and climate characteristics. This subdivision may follow some administrative scheme or be simply a regular grid in large areas. Clearly, a finer subdivision allows a very detailed analysis, but on the other hand it may slow down the subsequent phase. As usually, a compromise between detail and speed must be found. The second phase consists in the formulation and solution of a mathematical programming problem, normally of the mixed integer type, and its solution, which return the optimal allocation of crops and conversion plants in each of the parcels. The objective of the problem is the maximization of the net energy produced: the potential net energy from biofuels, minus the energy necessary to grow and transport feedstock. The optimal solution thus provides the best location for plants, the land to be cultivated in each parcel with each crop and the energy used in all the process stages. Such a formulation can be specialized in various ways to account for the local peculiarities. For instance, a portion of the available land can be reserved for specific uses, a minimum amount of some crop may be required, the capacity of the plants may be fixed, and so on. Results can be further analyzed according to different indicators of environmental impact. For instance, some index of biodiversity can be used to assess monocultures’ impacts. It is also possible to compute the greenhouse gases flows involved by the plan: namely the difference between those avoided by using biofuels and those emitted during their production. Even a simple qualitative analysis of the optimal map suggested by the model may provide interesting insights on the local development and the impacts on the activities of the population in the area. The approach is applied to the case of three municipalities in Mato Grosso, Brasil. The study is aimed at improving biofuel production in two existing transformation plants and to analyze the option of building a third plant in the area.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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