WP 4 - Environmental and economic sustainability assessment

WP Leader: Dr. Andrea POLLE (Georg-August Universität Göttingen)


Protection of biodiversity and mitigation of the emissions of greenhouse gasses are important issues in EU policies. With regard to liquid transport fuels and bioenergy the EU has set challenging targets for reductions in greenhouse gas (see Directive 2003/30/EC). Therefore, pathways for the production of biomass and its conversion into biofuels need to be able to demonstrate that they can make a positive contribution towards these goals. Whole life cycle assessments (LCAs) that consider the full life cycle of biofuels from the production of raw materials (biomass, additives), processing, distribution and final combustion emissions in motor vehicles are necessary tools to demonstrate this. A significant opportunity exists at present to design and develop optimised systems for biofuel production that afford wider sustainability benefits than solely the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel usage – examples include support for low impact fuel processing systems from optimised biomass feedstocks (see other WPs in ENERGYPOPLAR), support for soil carbon and nutrient development from perennial crops such as poplar, support for biodiversity, opportunities for sustainable land use and support for rural communities

WP4 objectives are to assess the ecological and economic sustainability of large-scale bioenergy plantations using novel second generation crops. This includes analysis of impacts of SCR energy poplar on biodiversity and landscape-scale ecosystem processes as well as impact on greenhouse gas balance in carbon equivalents, economic impact and life cycle analysis.

To fully assess the economic and environmental viability of biofuel production from energy crops, the whole chain from the biological production, plantation management, transportation, drying, conversion to and consumption of bio-fuels will be evaluated.

This WP ensures appropriate choice of those novel, improved energy poplar genotypes for bio-fuel production, which have optimised environmental and economic benefit with respect to diversity and GHG mitigation policies with the EU. It also identifies optimum, sustainable production chains starting from the biological production of industrial raw materials to the final product.

7 europa