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Sustainable Agriculture and the Production of Biomass for Energy Use

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  • Muller, Adrian

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

Modern bioenergy is seen as a promising option to curb greenhouse gas emissions. There is, however, a potential competition for land and water between bioenergy and food crops. Another question is whether biomass for energy use can be produced in a sustainable manner given the current conventional agricultural production practises. Other than the land and water competition, this question is often neglected in scenarios to meet a significant part of global energy demand with bioenergy. In the following, I address this question. There are sustainable alternatives, for example organic agriculture, to avoid the negative environmental effects of conventional agriculture. Yet, meeting a significant part of global energy demand with biomass grown sus- tainably may not be possible, as burning significant quantities of organic matter - inherent in bioenergy use - is likely to be incompatible with the principles of such alternatives, which often rely on biomass input for nutrient balance. There may therefore be a trade-off between policies and practices to increase bioenergy and those to increase sustainability in agriculture via Modern bioenergy is seen as a promising option to curb green- house gas emissions. There is, however, a potential competition for land and water between bioenergy and food crops. Another question is whether biomass for energy use can be produced in a sustainable manner given the current conventional agricultural production practises. Other than the land and water competition, this question is often neglected in scenarios to meet a significant part of global energy demand with bioenergy. In the following, I address this question. There are sustainable alternatives, for example organic agriculture, to avoid the negative environmental effects of conventional agriculture. Yet, meeting a significant part of global energy demand with biomass grown sus- tainably may not be possible, as burning significant quantities of organic matter - inherent in bioenergy use - is likely to be incompatible with the principles of such alternatives, which often rely on biomass input for nutrient balance. There may therefore be a trade-off between policies and practices to increase bioenergy and those to increase sustainability in agriculture via practices such as organic farming. This is not a general critique of bioenergy but it points to additional potential dangers of modern bioenergy as a strategy to meet significant parts of world energy demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Muller, Adrian, 2006. "Sustainable Agriculture and the Production of Biomass for Energy Use," Working Papers in Economics 216, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 01 Aug 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0216
    Note: forthcoming in Climatic Change
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/2699
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Delucchi, Mark, 2006. "Lifecycle Analyses of Biofuels," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt1pq0f84z, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    2. Toman, Michael & Simpson, R. David & Ayres, Robert, 2004. "Scarcity and Growth in the New Millennium: Summary," Discussion Papers dp-04-01, Resources For the Future.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lankoski, Jussi & Ollikainen, Markku, 2011. "Biofuel policies and the environment: Do climate benefits warrant increased production from biofuel feedstocks?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(4), pages 676-687, February.
    2. Gava, Oriana & Bartolini, Fabio & Brunori, Gianluca, 2015. "Spatial impacts and sustainability of farm biogas diffusion in Italy," 150th Seminar, October 22-23, 2015, Edinburgh, Scotland 212676, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Benjamin Blumenstein & Torsten Siegmeier & Carsten Bruckhaus & Victor Anspach & Detlev Möller, 2015. "Integrated Bioenergy and Food Production—A German Survey on Structure and Developments of Anaerobic Digestion in Organic Farming Systems," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(8), pages 1-24, August.
    4. M. Bruna Zolin & Bernadette Andreosso O�Callaghan, 2010. "Long-term cereal price changes: how important is the speculative element," Working Papers 2010_23, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    5. Bernadette Andreosso-O’Callaghan & M. Zolin, 2010. "Long-term Cereal Price Changes: How Important is the Speculative Element?," Transition Studies Review, Springer;Central Eastern European University Network (CEEUN), vol. 17(4), pages 624-637, December.
    6. Gita Surie, 2017. "Achieving Sustainability: Insights from Biogas Ecosystems in India," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(2), pages 1-20, February.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    bioenergy; sustainable energy; organic agriculture; land scarcity; water scarcity;

    JEL classification:

    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources

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