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Energy consumption and GHG emissions of six biofuel pathways by LCA in (the) People's Republic of China


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  • Ou, Xunmin
  • Zhang, Xiliang
  • Chang, Shiyan
  • Guo, Qingfang
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    This paper presents life-cycle-analysis (LCA) energy consumption (EC) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of China's current six biofuel pathways, which are: corn-derived ethanol (CE); cassava-derived ethanol (KE); sweet sorghum-derived ethanol (SE); soybean-derived bio-diesel (SB); jatropha fruit-derived bio-diesel (JB); and used cooking oil (UCO)-derived bio-diesel (UB). The tool utilized here is the WTW (Well-to-Wheels) module of Tsinghua-CA3EM model covering the entire lifecycle including: raw materials cultivation (or feedstock collection); fuel production; transportation and distribution; and application in automobile engines, compared with Conventional Petroleum-based gasoline and diesel Pathways (CPP). The results indicate: (1) the fossil energy inputs are about 1.0-1.5 times the energy contained in the fuel for the CE, SE and SB pathways, but 0.5-0.9 times for the KE, UB and JB pathways; (2) compared with CPP, the JB, KE and UB pathways can reduce both fossil fuel consumption and GHG emissions; the CE and SB pathways can only reduce fossil fuel consumption, but increase GHG emission; the SE pathway increases not only fossil fuel consumption but also GHG emission; and (3) the main factors inducing high EC and GHG emission levels include: high EC levels during the fuel production stage and high fertilizer application rates during the planting of raw feedstocks. Conclusions are that of the aforementioned biofuel pathways in (the) People's Republic of China: (1) only the JB, KE and UB pathways have energy-saving merits as indicated by the LCA energy inputs and outputs; (2) compared with CPP, all but the SE pathway reduces fossil fuel consumption. However, the SB and CE pathway increase GHG emission; (3) all six displace petroleum by utilizing more coal; and (4) feedstock productivity levels must be increased, and there must be a reduction in fertilizer utilization and EC consumption during the cultivation and transportation stages in order to achieve the goals of energy balance and GHG emission reduction.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Applied Energy.

    Volume (Year): 86 (2009)
    Issue (Month): Supplement 1 (November)
    Pages: S197-S208

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:86:y:2009:i:supplement1:p:s197-s208

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    Keywords: (the) People' s Republic of China Greenhouse gas Energy consumption Biofuel Bio-ethanol Bio-diesel;


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    Cited by:
    1. Hao, Han & Wang, Hewu & Song, Lingjun & Li, Xihao & Ouyang, Minggao, 2010. "Energy consumption and GHG emissions of GTL fuel by LCA: Results from eight demonstration transit buses in Beijing," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(10), pages 3212-3217, October.
    2. Razon, Luis F. & Tan, Raymond R., 2011. "Net energy analysis of the production of biodiesel and biogas from the microalgae: Haematococcus pluvialis and Nannochloropsis," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(10), pages 3507-3514.
    3. Russo, D. & Dassisti, M. & Lawlor, V. & Olabi, A.G., 2012. "State of the art of biofuels from pure plant oil," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 4056-4070.
    4. He, Ling-Yun & Chen, Yu, 2013. "Thou shalt drive electric and hybrid vehicles: Scenario analysis on energy saving and emission mitigation for road transportation sector in China," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 30-40.
    5. Saboori, Behnaz & Soleymani, Abdorreza, 2011. "Environmental Kuznets curve in Indonesia, the role of energy consumption and foreign trade," MPRA Paper 31534, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Ou, Xunmin & Zhang, Xiliang & Chang, Shiyan, 2010. "Scenario analysis on alternative fuel/vehicle for China's future road transport: Life-cycle energy demand and GHG emissions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 3943-3956, August.
    7. Yao, Mingfa & Liu, Haifeng & Feng, Xuan, 2011. "The development of low-carbon vehicles in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 5457-5464, September.
    8. Hou, Jian & Zhang, Peidong & Yuan, Xianzheng & Zheng, Yonghong, 2011. "Life cycle assessment of biodiesel from soybean, jatropha and microalgae in China conditions," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(9), pages 5081-5091.
    9. Borrion, Aiduan Li & McManus, Marcelle C. & Hammond, Geoffrey P., 2012. "Environmental life cycle assessment of lignocellulosic conversion to ethanol: A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(7), pages 4638-4650.
    10. Bazilian, Morgan & Rogner, Holger & Howells, Mark & Hermann, Sebastian & Arent, Douglas & Gielen, Dolf & Steduto, Pasquale & Mueller, Alexander & Komor, Paul & Tol, Richard S.J. & Yumkella, Kandeh K., 2011. "Considering the energy, water and food nexus: Towards an integrated modelling approach," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 7896-7906.
    11. Liu, Beibei & Wang, Feng & Zhang, Bing & Bi, Jun, 2013. "Energy balance and GHG emissions of cassava-based fuel ethanol using different planting modes in China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 210-220.
    12. Graham von Maltitz & Alexandros Gasparatos & Christo Fabricius, 2014. "The Rise, Fall and Potential Resilience Benefits of Jatropha in Southern Africa," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(6), pages 3615-3643, June.
    13. Pu Peng & Wenguang Zhou, 2014. "The Next Generation Feedstock of Biofuel: Jatropha or Chlorella as Assessed by Their Life-Cycle Inventories," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(3), pages 217-230, July.
    14. Nuwong Chollacoop & Peerawat Saisirirat & Tuenjai Fukuda & Atsushi Fukuda, 2011. "Scenario Analyses of Road Transport Energy Demand: A Case Study of Ethanol as a Diesel Substitute in Thailand," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(1), pages 108-125, January.
    15. Dong, Jun & Chi, Yong & Zou, Daoan & Fu, Chao & Huang, Qunxing & Ni, Mingjiang, 2014. "Energy–environment–economy assessment of waste management systems from a life cycle perspective: Model development and case study," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 400-408.
    16. Zhang, Caixia & Xie, Gaodi & Li, Shimei & Ge, Liqiang & He, Tingting, 2010. "The productive potentials of sweet sorghum ethanol in China," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(7), pages 2360-2368, July.
    17. Xunmin Ou & Xiaoyu Yan & Xu Zhang & Xiliang Zhang, 2013. "Life-Cycle Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis for Bio-Liquid Jet Fuel from Open Pond-Based Micro-Algae under China Conditions," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(9), pages 4897-4923, September.


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