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Title: Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use

Abstract

Perennial bioenergy crops have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribute to climate change mitigation by substituting for fossil fuels; yet delivering significant GHG savings will require substantial land-use change, globally. Over the last decade, research has delivered improved understanding of the environmental benefits and risks of this transition to perennial bioenergy crops, addressing concerns that the impacts of land conversion to perennial bioenergy crops could result in increased rather than decreased GHG emissions. For policymakers to assess the most cost-effective and sustainable options for deployment and climate change mitigation, synthesis of these studies is needed to support evidence-based decision making. In 2015, a workshop was convened with researchers, policymakers and industry/business representatives from the UK, EU and internationally. Outcomes from global research on bioenergy land-use change were compared to identify areas of consensus, key uncertainties, and research priorities. Here, we discuss the strength of evidence for and against six consensus statements summarizing the effects of land-use change to perennial bioenergy crops on the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and water, in the context of the whole life-cycle of bioenergy produc-tion. Our analysis suggests that the direct impacts of dedicated perennial bioenergy crops on soil carbon and nitrousmore » oxide are increasingly well understood and are often consistent with significant life cycle GHG mitiga-tion from bioenergy relative to conventional energy sources. We conclude that the GHG balance of perennial bioenergy crop cultivation will often be favourable, with maximum GHG savings achieved where crops are grown on soils with low carbon stocks and conservative nutrient application, accruing additional environmental benefits such as improved water quality. The analysis reported here demonstrates there is a mature and increasingly comprehensive evidence base on the environmental benefits and risks of bioenergy cultivation which can support the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [3];  [7];  [7];  [2];  [1]; ORCiD logo [8];  [9];  [1]
  1. Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster (United Kingdom)
  2. Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO (United States)
  3. Univ. of Illinois, Urbana, IL (United States)
  4. Univ. of Sao Paulo, Piracicaba (Brazil)
  5. Univ. of Antwerp, Wilrijk (Belgium)
  6. Shell International Exploration and Production Inc., Houston, TX (United States)
  7. Aberystwyth Univ., Aberystwyth (United Kingdom)
  8. Univ. of Aberdeen, Aberdeen (United Kingdom)
  9. Univ. of Manchester, Manchester (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
South Dakota State Univ., Brookings, SD (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Biomass Programs; USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1511215
Grant/Contract Number:  
FG36-08GO88073
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 1757-1693
Publisher:
Wiley
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; biofuels; biomass; greenhouse gas emissions; land-use change; life-cycle assessment; nitrous oxide; perennial bioenergy crops; soil carbon

Citation Formats

Whitaker, Jeanette, Field, John L., Bernacchi, Carl J., Cerri, Carlos E. P., Ceulemans, Reinhart, Davies, Christian A., DeLucia, Evan H., Donnison, Iain S., McCalmont, Jon P., Paustian, Keith, Rowe, Rebecca L., Smith, Pete, Thornley, Patricia, and McNamara, Niall P. Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12488.
Whitaker, Jeanette, Field, John L., Bernacchi, Carl J., Cerri, Carlos E. P., Ceulemans, Reinhart, Davies, Christian A., DeLucia, Evan H., Donnison, Iain S., McCalmont, Jon P., Paustian, Keith, Rowe, Rebecca L., Smith, Pete, Thornley, Patricia, & McNamara, Niall P. Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use. United States. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12488.
Whitaker, Jeanette, Field, John L., Bernacchi, Carl J., Cerri, Carlos E. P., Ceulemans, Reinhart, Davies, Christian A., DeLucia, Evan H., Donnison, Iain S., McCalmont, Jon P., Paustian, Keith, Rowe, Rebecca L., Smith, Pete, Thornley, Patricia, and McNamara, Niall P. Sat . "Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use". United States. doi:10.1111/gcbb.12488. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1511215.
@article{osti_1511215,
title = {Consensus, uncertainties and challenges for perennial bioenergy crops and land use},
author = {Whitaker, Jeanette and Field, John L. and Bernacchi, Carl J. and Cerri, Carlos E. P. and Ceulemans, Reinhart and Davies, Christian A. and DeLucia, Evan H. and Donnison, Iain S. and McCalmont, Jon P. and Paustian, Keith and Rowe, Rebecca L. and Smith, Pete and Thornley, Patricia and McNamara, Niall P.},
abstractNote = {Perennial bioenergy crops have significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribute to climate change mitigation by substituting for fossil fuels; yet delivering significant GHG savings will require substantial land-use change, globally. Over the last decade, research has delivered improved understanding of the environmental benefits and risks of this transition to perennial bioenergy crops, addressing concerns that the impacts of land conversion to perennial bioenergy crops could result in increased rather than decreased GHG emissions. For policymakers to assess the most cost-effective and sustainable options for deployment and climate change mitigation, synthesis of these studies is needed to support evidence-based decision making. In 2015, a workshop was convened with researchers, policymakers and industry/business representatives from the UK, EU and internationally. Outcomes from global research on bioenergy land-use change were compared to identify areas of consensus, key uncertainties, and research priorities. Here, we discuss the strength of evidence for and against six consensus statements summarizing the effects of land-use change to perennial bioenergy crops on the cycling of carbon, nitrogen and water, in the context of the whole life-cycle of bioenergy produc-tion. Our analysis suggests that the direct impacts of dedicated perennial bioenergy crops on soil carbon and nitrous oxide are increasingly well understood and are often consistent with significant life cycle GHG mitiga-tion from bioenergy relative to conventional energy sources. We conclude that the GHG balance of perennial bioenergy crop cultivation will often be favourable, with maximum GHG savings achieved where crops are grown on soils with low carbon stocks and conservative nutrient application, accruing additional environmental benefits such as improved water quality. The analysis reported here demonstrates there is a mature and increasingly comprehensive evidence base on the environmental benefits and risks of bioenergy cultivation which can support the development of a sustainable bioenergy industry.},
doi = {10.1111/gcbb.12488},
journal = {Global Change Biology. Bioenergy},
issn = {1757-1693},
number = 3,
volume = 10,
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {10}
}

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