Do biofuels reduce greenhouse gasses or save energy?: Review of Life Cycle Assessment Studies of Biofuels and Applications to Asia

Event: IGES In-house seminar
Date: 14 December 2007
Presentation
Do biofuels reduce greenhouse gasses or save energy?: Review of Life Cycle Assessment Studies of Biofuels and Applications to Asia

Biofuels have been rapidly taken up by many countries in the Asia and Pacific region in order to meet their energy demands and developmental needs. Biofuels have been attributed to have advantages such as mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy saving while producing them, and provision of employment. There are several studies assessing the life-cycle emissions of biofuels with varied results. The real challenge is how to translate these potential on the ground. The presentation identifies current issues with LCA studies such as different system boundaries, data assumptions and whether or not byproducts are considered in biofuel production and attribute the differences in results from different studies making it difficult to compare them. In addition, the presentation draws out that many of these studies are not relevant to Asia Pacific region where production technologies are different from assumptions made in these studies. Moreover, changing trends such as declining animal draft power and increasing fossil fuel inputs in farming may make it difficult to achieve the expected GHG reductions if no stringent biofuel production standards are put in place. The presentation concludes that for Asia Pacific region to produce biofuels efficiently and in environmentally friendly manner; there is a need to enhance the input use efficiency in the farming, restrict land use changes, put in place plans for rapid transition to second generation biofuels, and engaging non-fossil fuels in biofuel production and distribution.

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The full power point presentation can be obtained from the author.

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