OPTIMA

The OPTIMA project (Optimization of Perennial Grasses for Biomass Production) has received funding from the European Union’s FP7 programme and was finalised in September 2015 after a project duration of four years. The project, coordinated by the University of Catania, focused on the Mediterranean region where marginal lands are usually characterised by poor water availability. For this reason, drought resistant perennial crops were selected for investigation and optimisation within OPTIMA, including Miscanthus, Giant Reed (Arundo), Switchgrass and Cardoon. A broad range of potential products were investigated, including heat and power but also biofuels and bio-based products (e.g. chemicals).

Within the OPTIMA project, ifeu led the work on the sustainability assessment, being responsible for the screening life cycle assessment (LCA) and integrated sustainability assessment. For the latter, we joined the individual results on other aspects of sustainability including socio-economic and technical issues covered by consortium partners into an overall picture.

All analyses were based on life cycle comparisons, i.e. the entire life cycle of the bioenergy and bio-based products were compared to equivalent conventional products (mostly petroleum-based). The LCA results revealed that despite tough growing conditions, cultivation and use of all investigated crops can achieve greenhouse gas and non-renewable energy savings if used for stationary heat and/or power generation. Negative environmental impacts are less pronounced. For the defined system settings, Miscanthus was identified as the best performing crop. However, several boundary conditions have to be met: For instance, it must be ensured that only truly unused land is used in order to avoid indirect land use changes.

Based on methodology developed by ifeu (Keller et al. 2015), the integrated sustainability assessment identified front runner scenarios that perform best when results of technological, global/regional as well as local environmental, socio-economic, cost-related and SWOT analyses are taken into account. These front runner scenarios are Miscanthus or Giant Reed used in a small or large CHP with each combination performing best concerning specific sustainability indicators, e.g. job creation, the return on investment or greenhouse gas savings. However, trade-offs between the respective aspects of sustainability have to be considered when specific scenarios are supported or implemented.

Publications

A.L. Fernando, N. Rettenmaier, P. Soldatos, C. Panoutsou:
Sustainability of perennial crops production for bioenergy and bio-products. In: Alexopoulou (ed.): Perennial Grasses for Bioenergy and Bioproducts, pp. 245-283, Elsevier 2018.

A.L. Fernando, J. Costa, B. Barbosa, A. Monti, N. Rettenmaier:
Environmental impact assessment of perennial crops cultivation on marginal soils in the Mediterranean Region. Biomass and Bioenergy Vol. 111, pp. 174-186, Elsevier 2018.

N. Rettenmaier, T. Schmidt:
LCA of perennial grasses. In: Biobased Future, No. 5, p. 20, 2016.

T. Schmidt, A.L. Fernando, A. Monti, N. Rettenmaier:
Life cycle assessment of bioenergy and bio-based products from perennial grasses cultivated on marginal land in the Mediterranean region. BioEnergy Research, Special Issue on Optimization of Perennial Grasses for Biomass Production in the Mediterranean Area, Vol. 8(1), pp. 1548-1561, Springer, 2015

H. Keller, N. Rettenmaier, G. Reinhardt:
Integrated sustainability assessment of bioenergy and bio-based products from perennial grasses cultivated on marginal land. In: OPTIMA project reports, supported by the EU’s FP7 under GA No. 289642, ifeu, Heidelberg, Germany, 2015

N. Rettenmaier, S. Gärtner, H. Keller, M. Müller-Lindenlauf, G. Reinhardt, T. Schmidt, A. Schorb:
Life cycle assessment of bioenergy and bio-based products from perennial grasses cultivated on marginal land. In: OPTIMA project reports, supported by the EU’s FP7 under GA No. 289642, ifeu, Heidelberg, Germany, 2015

 

Runtime

October 2011 – September 2015

Funding

European Union’s FP7 programme

Partner

In cooperation with Università degli studi di Catania (IT), Università di Bologna (IT), Centre for Renewable energy sources and saving (GR), Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (PT), Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (ES), Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (UK), Agricultural University of Athens (GR), Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche (IT), Universitat de les Illes Balears (ES), Universitat de Barcelona (E) Aberystwyth University (UK), University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Dublin (IR), Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IN), Huazong Agricultural University (CN), Consiglio per la Ricerca e Sperimentazione in Agricoltura (IT), Instituto de Agrobiotecnologia Rosario S.A. (AR), B.T.G. Biomass technology group BV (NL), Spapperi S.R.L. (IT), Primus Ltd. (HU), Tuzetka (BE).

Further content:

Biomass