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Land and water requirements of biofuel and implications for food supply and the environment in China

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  • Yang, Hong
  • Zhou, Yuan
  • Liu, Junguo
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    Abstract

    The increasing thirst for energy to fuel its fast growing economy has made China keen to explore the potential of modern form of bioenergy, biofuel. This study investigates the land and water requirements of biofuel in China with reference to the government biofuel development plans for 2010 and 2020. The concept of land and water footprints of biofuel is applied for the investigation. The result shows that the current level of bioethanol production consumes 3.5-4% of total maize production of the country, reducing market availability of maize for other uses by about 6%. It is projected that depending on the types of feedstock, 5-10% of the total cultivated land in China would need to be devoted to meet the biofuel production target of 12 million metric tons for the year 2020. The associated water requirement would amount to 32-72km3 per year, approximately equivalent to the annual discharge of the Yellow River. The net contribution of biofuel to the national energy pool could be limited due to generally low net energy return of conventional feedstocks. The current biofuel development paths could pose significant impacts on China's food supply and trade, as well as the environment.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 37 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 5 (May)
    Pages: 1876-1885

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:37:y:2009:i:5:p:1876-1885

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    Keywords: Land footprint Water footprint Food security;

    References

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    2. A. Hoekstra & A. Chapagain, 2007. "Water footprints of nations: Water use by people as a function of their consumption pattern," Water Resources Management, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 35-48, January.
    3. Jörg Peters & Sascha Thielmann, 2008. "Promoting Biofuels: Implications for Developing Countries," Ruhr Economic Papers 0038, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    4. Shapouri, Hosein & Duffield, James A. & Wang, Michael Q., 2002. "The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update," Agricultural Economics Reports 34075, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    5. Russi, Daniela, 2008. "An integrated assessment of a large-scale biodiesel production in Italy: Killing several birds with one stone?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 1169-1180, March.
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    Cited by:
    1. Acosta-Michlik, Lilibeth & Lucht, Wolfgang & Bondeau, Alberte & Beringer, Tim, 2011. "Integrated assessment of sustainability trade-offs and pathways for global bioenergy production: Framing a novel hybrid approach," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 2791-2809, August.
    2. Silalertruksa, Thapat & Gheewala, Shabbir H., 2010. "Security of feedstocks supply for future bio-ethanol production in Thailand," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 7476-7486, November.
    3. Abila, Nelson, 2014. "Biofuels adoption in Nigeria: Attaining a balance in the food, fuel, feed and fibre objectives," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 347-355.
    4. Wetzstein, M. & Wetzstein, H., 2011. "Four myths surrounding U.S. biofuels," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 4308-4312, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Chen, Sheng-Tung & Kuo, Hsiao-I & Chen, Chi-Chung, 2010. "Modeling the relationship between the oil price and global food prices," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(8), pages 2517-2525, August.
    7. Geraldes Castanheira, Érica & Grisoli, Renata & Freire, Fausto & Pecora, Vanessa & Coelho, Suani Teixeira, 2014. "Environmental sustainability of biodiesel in Brazil," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 680-691.
    8. Xinchun Cao & Pute Wu & Yubao Wang & Xining Zhao, 2014. "Water Footprint of Grain Product in Irrigated Farmland of China," Water Resources Management, Springer, vol. 28(8), pages 2213-2227, June.
    9. 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.
    10. Hochman, Gal & Rajagopal, Deepak & Timilsina, Govinda & Zilberman, David, 2011. "The role of inventory adjustments in quantifying factors causing food price inflation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5744, The World Bank.
    11. Babel, M.S. & Shrestha, B. & Perret, S.R., 2011. "Hydrological impact of biofuel production: A case study of the Khlong Phlo Watershed in Thailand," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 8-26.

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