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Where to produce rapeseed biodiesel and why? Mapping European rapeseed energy efficiency


  • van Duren, Iris
  • Voinov, Alexey
  • Arodudu, Oludunsin
  • Firrisa, Melese Tesfaye


Rapeseed is widely used to produce biodiesel, especially in Europe. In several studies, it has been shown that there is a good potential for growing this crop across the continent. However there is still little awareness that the energy efficiency of biofuel production from rapeseed is very low. Energy efficiency can be expressed in terms of Energy Return for Energy Invested (EROEI). We mapped EROEI values for all EU countries plus Switzerland based on expected yields derived from rapeseed suitability maps. We find that EU countries produce rapeseed biofuel with EROEI values of 2.2 and lower. We suggest that plans for biofuel cropping have to be supplemented by maps of EROEI. It is not only relevant to show where rapeseed can be grown, but we should also look at where its use for bioenergy can be efficient. In the area theoretically suitable for growing rainfed rapeseed (excluding unsuitable areas and water), 37.6% of the area can produce rape methyl ester (RME) biofuel only with an energy loss. We conclude that the energy efficiency of rapeseed biodiesel is low and spatially heterogeneous, and unless there are major technological improvements in the production process, replacing fossil fuels by biofuels from rapeseed is hardly a feasible option.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:renene:v:74:y:2015:i:c:p:49-59
    DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2014.07.016

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles A. S. Hall & Stephen Balogh & David J.R. Murphy, 2009. "What is the Minimum EROI that a Sustainable Society Must Have?," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(1), pages 1-23, January.
    2. Hammond, G.P. & Kallu, S. & McManus, M.C., 2008. "Development of biofuels for the UK automotive market," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 85(6), pages 506-515, June.
    3. 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.
    4. David Murphy & Charles Hall & Bobby Powers, 2011. "New perspectives on the energy return on (energy) investment (EROI) of corn ethanol," Environment, Development and Sustainability: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Theory and Practice of Sustainable Development, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 179-202, February.
    5. Bomb, Christian & McCormick, Kes & Deurwaarder, Ewout & Kaberger, Tomas, 2007. "Biofuels for transport in Europe: Lessons from Germany and the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 2256-2267, April.
    6. Baka, Jennifer & Roland-Holst, David, 2009. "Food or fuel? What European farmers can contribute to Europe's transport energy requirements and the Doha Round," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2505-2513, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Budzyński, Wojciech Stefan & Jankowski, Krzysztof Józef & Jarocki, Marcin, 2015. "An analysis of the energy efficiency of winter rapeseed biomass under different farming technologies. A case study of a large-scale farm in Poland," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 90(P2), pages 1272-1279.
    2. Haiwen Song & Kelly Sison Quinton & Zhijun Peng & Hua Zhao & Nicos Ladommatos, 2016. "Effects of Oxygen Content of Fuels on Combustion and Emissions of Diesel Engines," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(1), pages 1-12, January.
    3. repec:eee:energy:v:131:y:2017:i:c:p:289-296 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Nunes, L.J.R. & Matias, J.C.O. & Catalão, J.P.S., 2016. "Wood pellets as a sustainable energy alternative in Portugal," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 1011-1016.
    5. Cassie Marie Welker & Vimal Kumar Balasubramanian & Carloalberto Petti & Krishan Mohan Rai & Seth DeBolt & Venugopal Mendu, 2015. "Engineering Plant Biomass Lignin Content and Composition for Biofuels and Bioproducts," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(8), pages 1-23, July.
    6. repec:gam:jeners:v:9:y:2016:i:1:p:28:d:61729 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:rensus:v:79:y:2017:i:c:p:1078-1090 is not listed on IDEAS


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