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

Listed author(s):
  • van Duren, Iris
  • Voinov, Alexey
  • Arodudu, Oludunsin
  • Firrisa, Melese Tesfaye
Registered author(s):

    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.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Renewable Energy.

    Volume (Year): 74 (2015)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 49-59

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    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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    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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