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BIOENERGY FOR EUROPE: WHICH ONES FIT BEST?

BIOENERGY FOR EUROPE: WHICH ONES FIT BEST?

98 7 Annex 7.1.1 Country

98 7 Annex 7.1.1 Country specific results – Austria Within the context of this project, Austria investigated five biofuels in comparison to their respective fossil counterparts, as was explained in Chapter 2. While the results for the whole of Europe are presented in Chapter 4, in this chapter the results for Austria are presented, on which the European results are partly based. In the following section the results are discussed for all those life cycle comparisons that were investigated in Austria. These are: • Triticale versus hard coal for electricity production • Traditional firewood versus light oil and natural gas for heat production • Wheat straw versus light oil and natural gas for heat production • Rape seed oil methyl ester versus fossil diesel for transport fuel • Biogas versus natural gas for combined heat and electricity production In addition, comparisons between the various biofuels have been carried out in order to assess which one is the most suitable in ecological terms for a specific objective. This lead to a number of different questions, in the light of which the various biofuels were compared. Austria looked at three of these, namely: Heat production (traditional firewood and wheat straw), efficiency of land use (RME and triticale), impacts related to saved energy (triticale, RME, traditional firewood, wheat straw and biogas). For more information on these comparisons the reader is referred to Chapter 2. As for the European chains, the life cycle comparisons were carried out with regard to specific environmental impact parameters. These were: use of fossil fuels, greenhouse effect, acidification, eutrophication, summer smog, nitrous oxide, human toxicity. The criteria according to which these were selected as well as an explanation of their meanings can be found in the Chapters 3.3 and 3.4. Basically the assessment of different impact categories will lead to arguments in favour of and against the biofuel. In this case a clear decision cannot be made without a value judgement regarding the individual environmental categories required. Whether bioenergy is assessed as better or worse than the fossil counterpart depends on the focus of the decision. Thus decision makers, political institutions, etc. are encouraged to carry out their own assessment on the basis of their specific priorities. From the point of view of the Austrian authors those parameters are of special importance which are currently embodied in international agreements and national programmes. Within the scope of the investigations of this project the agreements and programmes of interest are the following: • Use of fossil energy: Essential objectives of the Austrian energy policy are a reduced consumption of fossil energy achieved by means of a sensible and rational use of energy – and thus an increase in energy efficiency and the support of renewable sources of energy – (source: "Energiebericht der Österreichischen Bundesregierung 1993") as well as the indicative objective of the White Paper of the European Commission "Energy for the future – renewable sources of energy", which provides for doubling the use of renewable energy. • Reduction of green house gas emissions: The obligations of the Kyoto Conference providing for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 75.4 million tons in 1990 to 66 million tons in the year 2010. • Reduction of acid emissions and eutrophication of waters: in accordance with the UN/ECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, which deals with SO2, NOx, VOC, Heavy Metal, Persistent Organic Pollutants and Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground level Ozone in eight protocols. Being aware that the scientific results are ahead of the national programmes and the international agreements the following parameters which have been investigated during the project but have not been included in the before mentioned list shall be paid special attention: N2O (because of the potential danger of stratospheric ozone depletion) as well as the emissions of photo-oxidants (because of the wellknown risk of summer smog formation). The conclusions for Austria are drawn from the standardised data presented in diagrams and the absolute values referring to an important unit in connection with a decision in Austria (area, animal population, energy amount).

7.1 Country specific life cycle comparisons 99 Triticale versus hard coal for electricity production – Austria Use of fossil fuels Greenhouse effect Acidification Eutrophication Summer smog Nitrous oxide Human toxicity How to interpret the diagram Advantages for biofuel Advantages for fossil fuel -15000 -10000 -5000 0 5000 10000 Inhabitant equivalents per 100 million kWh The figure shows the results of comparisons between complete life cycles where hard coal is substituted by triticale for electricity generation. The unit refers to an amount of one hundred million kWh of electricity. This is equivalent to the average electricity requirement of about 14,800 inhabitants in Austria in one year, or a triticale production of about 4,600 ha/a. In this case for example the amount of fossil fuel saved is equal to the amount which about 7,100 Austrian citizens would on average consume in one year (this is what is meant by „Austrian inhabitant equivalents“). Conclusions It can be assumed that the production of grain for energy will compete with fallow land at the time of economic realisation. Triticale can be cultivated on all Austrian areas of arable land (approx. 1.4 million ha), the production of energy crops on 100,000 ha is considered appropriate. With this area 19 PJ fossil fuel, 1.8 Mt CO2, 1 kt SO2 and 0.05 kt ethylen-equivalent can be saved. On the other hand eutrophication and nitrous oxide emission will increase (12 kt NO3, 0,2 kt N2O). Triticale used for the production of energy displays major advantages concerning the use of fossil energy and greenhouse gas emissions. In the year 2010 1.6 % of the demand in primary energy can be covered by an area of 7 % of the arable land. Triticale can contribute 19 % to the demanded reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 9.4 million tons by substituting hard coal. The effects on acidification and on summer smog are positive but minimal, no changes could be observed in the category "human toxicity". Considerable deterioration is observed in the emission of nitrous oxide and in eutrophication. The absolute increases seem to be rather small with 208 t N2O (2.3 % of N2O-burdens in the year 1999) or 11,805 t NO3.

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