The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has shown that bioenergy can play a critical role in meeting the targets of the Paris climate agreement. At the same time, there are concerns that future bioenergy use will cause significant ecological damages, supply chain emissions and emissions induced by land use. Many of the factors and relationships that underlie these concerns are complex and/or highly uncertain. In this project, we will evaluate the role of bioenergy in the context of 1.5 ºC and 2 ºC climate targets. We will combine life cycle assessment (LCA) and dynamic energy-land use modelling in order to analyse the climate and environmental impacts of a diverse set of bioenergy technology alternatives, and of global bioenergy deployment pathways. This will help identify what future optimal bioenergy deployment pathways should look like, and to find win-win solutions.
The initial part of the project focused on the integration of IAM outcomes into an LCA framework. Future scenarios of land use and energy systems according to different SSPs have been produced. They represent different future demands of bioenergy (a zero, mid- and high bioenergy demand), and can inform about the different implications and indirect effects associated with bioenergy production for climate change mitigation under a range of different socio-economic factors. These data are being implemented into an integrated IAM-LCA model that has an advanced state-of-the-art level of functionality and quality. This model will be composed of flexible modules that allow analysis at different regional levels. The overall aim is to develop capabilities to analyse a very large number of technology combinations and scenarios, taking into consideration regional variations and future technological progresses. It will be also possible to implement improvements in the bioenergy production efficiency, and see how a cleaner energy system with a larger shares of renewable energy will influence LCA results of biofuels. All this is instrumental to prospective future-oriented LCA studies of bioenergy.
Additional information about the project and the publications are available upon request to the Principal Investigator.
Most climate change mitigation scenarios are profoundly dependent on future large-scale deployment of purpose-grown bioenergy crops. At the same time, there are widespread concerns that these bioenergy crops will bring about significant ecological damage, supply chain emissions, and emissions induced by land use. Also widespread are concerns that the bioenergy crops will compete with food crops. Such impacts and dynamics are currently poorly understood and/or highly uncertain. This project will evaluate the role of bioenergy in a sustainable future. It will combine life cycle assessment (LCA) and dynamic land use-energy scenario modelling in order to evaluate co-benefits and adverse side-effects of global bioenergy deployment across different environmental impact indicators, and perform comparative environmental assessments of a diverse set of bioenergy technology alternatives. This, in turn, will help identify what future optimal bioenergy deployment pathways should look like, and to identify possible win-win strategies. An interlinked and mutually reinforcing objective is to lift a scenario-based LCA model to a new state-of-the-art level of functionality, utility and quality. Achieving this will be a three-fold approach: developing sets of practical computer routines systematizing the generation of life cycle inventories reflecting regional variation and future changes; feeding back the regionally and temporally explicit inventories into existing processes in an LCA database; and undertaking scenario analyses in LCA with proper uncertainty characterization.