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BIOENERGY FOR EUROPE: WHICH ONES FIT BEST?

BIOENERGY FOR EUROPE: WHICH ONES FIT BEST?

64 4 Environmental

64 4 Environmental results: presentation, discussion and interpretation 4.3.1 Technical applications I: heat production 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 Willow Miscanthus Firewood Straw -1000 -500 0 500 1000 1500 European inhabitant equivalents* per 100 TJ The figure shows the results of complete life cycle comparisons where straw, firewood, willow and Miscanthus respectively are used for heat production instead of light oil. The results are given for an amount of 100 TJ. This is equivalent to the average heat requirement of 4,000 inhabitants of Europe in one year or for example a Miscanthus production of about 450 ha/a. In this case for example the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that is being saved by substituting light oil by firewood is equal to the amount which about 750 European citizens would on average generate in one year. (This is what is meant by “European inhabitant equivalents”.) Remarks and conclusions Comparing the four investigated bioenergy carriers (in turn compared to their fossil counterparts) against each other, the following result emerges: • Use of fossil fuels and greenhouse effect: all biofuels show quite similar advantages. • Acidification: the biofuels show similar disadvantages or a non-significant result (firewood) • Eutrophication: the residues firewood and straw show small, the cultivated biofuels bigger disadvantages. • Summer smog: willow shows a small advantage, straw and Miscanthus disadvantages and firewood a non-significant result. The data for ozone depletion and human toxicity tend to have a high uncertainty. Therefore these categories should not be included in the final assessment. (**See Chapter 4.1.2 and for details on all impact categories 3.3 and 3.4) Overall traditional firewood seems to have more and greater advantages (or less and smaller disadvantages respectively) than the other biofuels. A further assessment in favour of or against one of the biofuels cannot be carried out on a scientific basis, because for this purpose subjective value judgements regarding the individual environmental categories are required which differ from person to person.

4.3 European results: biofuels for specific objectives 65 4.3.2 Technical applications II: transport 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 RME SME ETBE 10162 -1000 -500 0 500 1000 European inhabitant equivalents* per 100 million km The figure shows the results of complete life cycle comparisons where RME, SME and ETBE respectively are used in passenger cars instead of their respective fossil counterparts. The results are given for a distance of 100 million km being covered by passenger cars using the biofuel instead of fossil fuel. This is equivalent to the average annual mileage of 4,000 Europeans. In this case for example the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that is being saved by substituting MTBE by ETBE is equal to the amount which about 500 European citizens would on average generate in one year. (This is what is meant by “European inhabitant equivalents”.) Remarks and conclusions Comparing the three investigated bioenergy carriers (in turn compared to their fossil counterparts) against each other, the following result emerges: • Use of fossil fuels: all biofuels show quite similar advantages. • Greenhouse effect: all biofuels show advantages which are quite different. SME gives the highest and RME the lowest benefit. • Acidification: the biofuels show disadvantages of very different magnitude with ETBE having the lowest impacts and RME by far the largest. • Eutrophication: SME is the only biofuel with an environmental advantage over the fossil fuel. • Summer smog: the results are non-significant. The data for ozone depletion and human toxicity tend to have a high uncertainty. Therefore these categories should not be included in the final assessment. (**See Chapter 4.1.2 and for details on all impact categories 3.3 and 3.4) Overall RME seems to have more and greater disadvantages (or less and smaller advantages respectively) than the other biofuels. A further assessment in favour of or against one of the biofuels cannot be carried out on a scientific basis, because for this purpose subjective value judgements regarding the individual environmental categories are required which differ from person to person. 5985

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