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The impact of considering land intensification and updated data on biofuels land use change and emissions estimates.
  • Published Date:
    2017
  • Language:
    English
Filetype[PDF-1.51 MB]


Details:
  • Corporate Contributors:
  • Publication/ Report Number:
    Biotechnol Biofuels (2017) 10:191
  • Resource Type:
  • Right Statement:
    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
  • Corporate Publisher:
  • Format:
  • Abstract:
    Background: The GTAP model has been used to estimate biofuel policy induced land use changes and consequent GHG emissions for more than a decade. This paper reviews the history of the model and database modifications and improvements that have occurred over that period. In particular, the paper covers in greater detail the move from the 2004 to the 2011 database, and the inclusion of cropland intensification in the modeling structure. Results: The results show that all the changes in the global economy and agricultural sectors cause biofuels induced land use changes and associated emissions can be quite different using the 2011 database versus 2004. The results also demonstrate the importance of including land intensification in the analysis. The previous versions of GTAP and other similar models assumed that changes in harvested area equal changes in cropland area. However, FAO data demonstrate that it is not correct for several important world regions. The model now includes land intensification, and the resulting land use changes and emission values are lower as would be expected. Conclusions: Dedicated energy crops are not similar to the first generation feedstocks in the sense that they do not generate the level of market-mediated responses which we have seen in the first-generation feedstocks. The major market-mediated responses are reduced consumption, crop switching, changes in trade, changes in intensification, and forest or pasture conversion. These largely do not apply to dedicated energy corps. The land use emissions for cellulosic feedstocks depend on what we assume in the emissions factor model regarding soil carbon gained or lost in converting land to these feedstocks. We examined this important point for producing bio-gasoline from miscanthus. Much of the literature suggests miscanthus actually sequesters carbon, if grown on the existing active cropland or degraded land. We provide some illustrative estimates for possible assumptions. Finally, it is important to note the importance of the new results for the regulatory process. The current California Air Resources Board carbon scores for corn ethanol and soy biodiesel are 19.8 and 29.1, respectively (done with a model version that includes irrigation). The new model and database carbon scores are 12 and 18, respectively, for corn ethanol and soy biodiesel. Thus, the current estimates values are substantially less than the values currently being used for regulatory purposes.

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