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Potential, spatial distribution and economic performance of regional biomass chains: The North of the Netherlands as example


  • van der Hilst, F.
  • Dornburg, V.
  • Sanders, J.P.M.
  • Elbersen, B.
  • Graves, A.
  • Turkenburg, W.C.
  • Elbersen, H.W.
  • van Dam, J.M.C.
  • Faaij, A.P.C.


This work assesses the viability of regional biomass chains by comparing the economic performance of potential bioenergy crops with the performance of current agricultural land uses. The biomass chains assessed are ethanol production from Miscanthus and from sugar beet in the North of the Netherlands. The competitiveness of bioenergy crops is assessed by comparing the Net Present Value (NPV) of perennial crops, current rotations, and rotation schemes which include additional years of sugar beet. The current land use and soil suitability for present and bioenergy crops are mapped using a geographical information system (GIS) and the spatial distribution of economic profitability is used to indicate where land use change is most likely to occur. Bioethanol production costs are then compared with petrol costs. The productions costs comprise costs associated with cultivation, harvest, transport and conversion to ethanol. The NPVs and cost of feedstock production are calculated for seven soil suitability classes. The results show that bioenergy crops are not competitive with current cropping systems on soils classed as "suitable". On less suitable soils, the return on intensively managed crops is low and perennial crops achieve better NPVs than common rotations. Our results showed that minimum feedstock production costs are 5.4Â [euro]/GJ for Miscanthus and 9.7Â [euro]/GJ for sugar beet depending on soil suitability. Ethanol from Miscanthus (24Â [euro]/GJ) is a better option than ethanol from sugar beet (27Â [euro]/GJ) in terms of costs. The cost of bioethanol production from domestically cultivated crops is not competitive with petrol (12.34Â [euro]/GJ) production under current circumstances. We propose that the method demonstrated in this study, provides a generic approach for identifying viable locations for bioenergy crop production based on soil properties and current land use.

Suggested Citation

  • van der Hilst, F. & Dornburg, V. & Sanders, J.P.M. & Elbersen, B. & Graves, A. & Turkenburg, W.C. & Elbersen, H.W. & van Dam, J.M.C. & Faaij, A.P.C., 2010. "Potential, spatial distribution and economic performance of regional biomass chains: The North of the Netherlands as example," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 103(7), pages 403-417, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:103:y:2010:i:7:p:403-417

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Smeets, Edward M.W. & Lewandowski, Iris M. & Faaij, André P.C., 2009. "The economical and environmental performance of miscanthus and switchgrass production and supply chains in a European setting," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 13(6-7), pages 1230-1245, August.
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    3. Venturi, P. & Gigler, J.K. & Huisman, W., 1999. "Economical and technical comparison between herbaceous (Miscanthus x giganteus) and woody energy crops (Salix viminalis)," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1023-1026.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kate, Joeri ten & Teunter, Ruud & Kusumastuti, Ratih Dyah & van Donk, Dirk Pieter, 2017. "Bio-diesel production using mobile processing units: A case in Indonesia," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 121-130.
    2. Witzel, Carl-Philipp & Finger, Robert, 2016. "Economic evaluation of Miscanthus production – A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 681-696.
    3. repec:eee:agisys:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:216-229 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Schmidt, J. & Schönhart, M. & Biberacher, M. & Guggenberger, T. & Hausl, S. & Kalt, G. & Leduc, S. & Schardinger, I. & Schmid, E., 2012. "Regional energy autarky: Potentials, costs and consequences for an Austrian region," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 211-221.
    5. Bekkering, J. & Hengeveld, E.J. & van Gemert, W.J.T. & Broekhuis, A.A., 2015. "Designing a green gas supply to meet regional seasonal demand – An operations research case study," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 348-358.
    6. Batidzirai, B. & Smeets, E.M.W. & Faaij, A.P.C., 2012. "Harmonising bioenergy resource potentials—Methodological lessons from review of state of the art bioenergy potential assessments," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(9), pages 6598-6630.
    7. Andrée, Bo Pieter Johannes & Diogo, Vasco & Koomen, Eric, 2017. "Efficiency of second-generation biofuel crop subsidy schemes: Spatial heterogeneity and policy design," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 848-862.
    8. van Duren, Iris & Voinov, Alexey & Arodudu, Oludunsin & Firrisa, Melese Tesfaye, 2015. "Where to produce rapeseed biodiesel and why? Mapping European rapeseed energy efficiency," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 49-59.
    9. Chris Jacobs-Crisioni & Vasco Diogo & Carolina Perpina Castillo & Claudia Baranzelli & Filipe Batista e Silva & Konstantin Rosina & Boyan Kavalov & Carlo Lavalle, 2017. "The LUISA Territorial Reference Scenario 2017: A technical description," JRC Working Papers JRC108163, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    10. van der Hilst, F. & Lesschen, J.P. & van Dam, J.M.C. & Riksen, M. & Verweij, P.A. & Sanders, J.P.M. & Faaij, A.P.C., 2012. "Spatial variation of environmental impacts of regional biomass chains," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 2053-2069.
    11. P. Mathiou & Stelios Rozakis & Rafal Pudelko & A. Faber & A. Petsakos, 2014. "Utility maximising supply response: the case of perennial biomass plantations in Poland," Working Papers 2014-3, Agricultural University of Athens, Department Of Agricultural Economics.
    12. Laure Bamière, 2014. "A spatially explicit model to analyse the regional supply of ligno-cellulosic biomass," Working Papers 2014/01, INRA, Economie Publique.
    13. Diogo, V. & van der Hilst, F. & van Eijck, J. & Verstegen, J.A. & Hilbert, J. & Carballo, S. & Volante, J. & Faaij, A., 2014. "Combining empirical and theory-based land-use modelling approaches to assess economic potential of biofuel production avoiding iLUC: Argentina as a case study," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 208-224.
    14. Diogo, V. & Koomen, E. & Hilst, F. van der, 2012. "Second generation biofuel production in the Netherlands. A spatially-explicit exploration of the economic viability of a perennial biofuel crop," Serie Research Memoranda 0004, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
    15. Miyake, Saori & Smith, Carl & Peterson, Ann & McAlpine, Clive & Renouf, Marguerite & Waters, David, 2015. "Environmental implications of using ‘underutilised agricultural land’ for future bioenergy crop production," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 180-195.
    16. Diogo, V. & Koomen, E. & Kuhlman, T., 2015. "An economic theory-based explanatory model of agricultural land-use patterns: The Netherlands as a case study," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 1-16.


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