Carbon efficiency of bioenergy crops and the trade-offs with food production and biodiversity
01 / 2010 - 01 / 2011
Doel Inzicht verkrijgen in de broeikasgasbalans en mogelijke afwentelingen van verschillende productie systemen (inclusief voedsel en energie.
Werkwijze 2010 eerste kwartaal: uitwerken van het projectplan en het maken van een quickscan waarin de positie en richting vh verder onderozek zal worden toegelicht
2010 tweede kwartaal: verdere uitwerking onderzoeksvragen en benadering (inclusief een prioritering van het onderzoek)
2010 derde en vierde kwartaal: uitvoering van het onderzoek.
2011 doorloop onderzoek na eindejaars evaluatie.
- quickscan van het onderzoeksveld - onderzoeksvragen en plan van aanpak - eindejaar evaluatie van eerste resultaten
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Description: The current debate on the role of bioenergy in a low carbon economy is in a deadlock. To meet the set policy goals and break free from this deadlock old ideas need to be reconsidered and new ideas should be generated.
Part of the deadlock is linked to controversies about the effectivenessof, the possible socio-economic impacts of or the potential land use shiftsrelated to bioenergy production systems. Also strategic arguments like secondgeneration biofuels will not be possible without the first generation or bioenergyis part of the long term transition to a low carbon economy are part of the discussion.
Research objectives: Economic growth is the trigger for development. Since the start of the industrial revolution this economic development strongly depends on the use of fossil fuel. However, given the rate and expected impacts of climate change carbon-based growth is no longer an option. All sectors (e.g. industry, agriculture, transport) will have to find ways to reduce emissions in order to keep atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations within acceptable limits. Using biomass for energy is part of a strategy to change energy consumption patterns and sources. The notion to diversify and reduce greenhouse gas concentrations triggered a revival of biofuels. The biofuels debate is shaped around four key issues.
First, and from a climate change perspective the most important, is the claim that biomass for energy results in a reduced emission of greenhouse gasses and it is an efficient way to contribute to a low carbon economy. The claim that biomass for energy is an effective low-carbon alternative for fossil fuel is not undisputed. For example in cases where forest is cleared, high inputs of agrochemicals are needed, or crops are grown on peatsoils this claim most likely does not hold.
Second, are the staggering oil prices we have experienced over the last decades. Increasing and fluctuating oil prices trigged governments and households to look at alternative sources of energy, including biofuels.
Third, is the claims that bioenergy crop provide new options for rural development in developing countries. This claim is highly controversial but evidence for and against are scattered. Most political attention is drawn to the competition with food production and conservation targets.
Fourth is related to the geopolitical concerns in relation to the time-limited availability of fossil fuels is a clear incentive to diversify sources and supplies of energy. This strategy is explored at local and national scales, it is perhaps the least controversial.
Issues one and three are the most controversial. Issues two and four fit into most policies of securing a diverse, and sustainable supplies of energy at competitive prices.
In relation to the third issue also the effects of fluctuations in oil prices (issue 2) on food prices should be addressed. Agricultural production depends on fossil fuel for e.g. inputs, processing, and transport. Given the need to increase agricultural productivity in the coming decades to keep up with a growing world population with changing diets this energy requirement will most likely increase. In a low carbon economy, with no clear alternatives for fossil fuel, or in situations where oil is scarse food prices will be driven up. In any case it will be difficult for agriculture to produce affordable food in a sustainable manner.
Whether current production areas will have the same production capacity in the future is also related to the impacts of climate change on these production systems.
Results and products:
- quickscan of issues related to bioenergy production - research questions and proposal to address thesequestions - end year evaluation with first results of the work