JOANNEUM RESEARCH

Greenhouse gas emissions of bioenergy from agriculture compared to fossil energy for heat and electricity supply

Publication from Life
Zukunftsfähige Energiesysteme und Lebensstile

Jungmeier G., Spitzer J.

Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems Volume 60, 2001

Abstract:

Increasing the use of bioenergy is one promising option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hence it is important to know the greenhouse gas emissions of bioenergy systems in comparison to fossil fuel systems. A life cycle analyses of biomass and fossil fuel energy systems is made to compare the overall greenhouse gas emission of both systems for heat and electricity supply. Different bioenergy systems to supply electricity and heat from agriculture are analysed for the Austrian situation in 2000. Total emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, N2O, CH4) along the fuel chain, including land use change and by-products, are calculated. The systems taken into consideration are different conversion technologies and different fuels from agriculture. The methodology was developed within the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy Task 25 on `Greenhouse Gas Balances of Bioenergy Systems'. In this paper the results of selected bioenergy systems for heat supply and combined supply of electricity and heat shown as emission of CO2-equivalents per kWh for bioenergy systems in comparison to fossil fuel systems, and as a percentage of CO2-equivalent reduction. The results demonstrate that some of the bioenergy systems reduce greenhouse gas emission already because of avoided emissions of the reference biomass use and/or because of certain substitution effects of by-products. In general the greenhouse gas emissions of bioenergy systems are lower compared to the fossil systems. Therefore a significant reduction of greenhouse gases is possible by replacing fossil energy systems with bioenergy systems. This comparison should help policy makers, utilities and industry to identify effective agricultural biomass options in order to reach emission reduction targets.