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Bioenergy and bio-based products from marginal land

           

 

 

Background

 

Arivumathi, Wikimedia https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:"Dry_land".JPGLand availability is a major factor which limits the production of bioenergy and bio-based products. Also, land use competition is likely to aggravate globally over the next decades. Against this background, the exploitation of marginal land, i.e. land which is currently not used for agricultural or any other purposes, has been suggested as an alternative with little negative environmental and socio-economic impacts. Ifeu has investigated the environmental impacts of biomass production on marginal land, among others within the EU-funded projects OPTIMA and Global-Bio-Pact. A new project (SEEMLA) was launched in January 2016.

 
 
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OPTIMA Project

 

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).

 

CR: Markus Hagenlochner, Wikimedia https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Miscanthus#/media/File:Chinaschilf.jpg CR:Shizhao, wikimedia  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AArundo_donax_2007.JPG CR: Jebulon, wikimedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panicum_virgatum_JdP.jpg CR: H.Zell, wikimedia, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/Cynara_cardunculus_005.JPG
Miscanthus
Giant reed (Arundo)
Switchgrass
Cardoon

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.

Downloads & Publications: see below

 
 
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SEEMLA Project

 

The SEEMLA project (‘Sustainable exploitation of biomass for bioenergy from marginal lands’) receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme and has started in January 2016. The main objectives of the project are

  • the development and optimisation of cropping systems for special marginal sites,
  • the promotion of the re-conversion of marginal lands for the production of bioenergy through the direct involvement of farmers, foresters or the responsible public authorities, e.g. by means of guidelines and manuals, and
  • the strengthening of local small scale supply chains.


Ifeu will be responsible for the sustainability assessment of the proposed production chains by investigation of environmental and socio-economic impacts. Analyses will include a life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle environmental impact assessment (LC-EIA) which focuses on local/site-specific environmental impacts, life cycle costing (LCC) and qualitative approaches to social aspects such as influence on rural development. All individual assessments will identify optimisation potentials and provide important qualitative and quantitative information from which recommendations for implementation strategies can be derived.

Downloads & Publications: see below

 
 
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Publications

 

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

Download

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

Details

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

Download


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

Download


N. Rettenmaier, A. Schorb, G. Hienz, R. Diaz-Chavez:
Report on sustainability impacts of the use of marginal areas and grassy biomass. In: Global-Bio-Pact project reports, supported by the EU’s FP7 under GA No. 245085, ifeu, Heidelberg, Germany, 2012

Download

N. Rettenmaier, S. Köppen, S. Gärtner, G. Reinhardt:
Screening Life Cycle Assessment of Hydrotreated Jatropha Oil. Commissioned by Daimler AG, Stuttgart, 2008


Details

G.A. Reinhardt, S. Gärtner, N. Rettenmaier, J. Münch, E. v. Falkenstein:
Screening Life Cycle Assessment of Jatropha Biodiesel. Commissioned by Daimler AG, Stuttgart, 2007


Details

 
 
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Contact

 

Nils Rettenmaier: nils.rettenmaier@ifeu.de (+49 6221 4767-24)

 
 

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