5 years ago



80 5 Socio-economic and

80 5 Socio-economic and political analyses III Political factors For a description of the major political aspects concerning biofuels, information has been collected from literature and policy documents on the following: • Future land claims: One condition for growing energy crops is that in 2010 part of the agricultural area is not needed for food production anymore. There are many land use potentials other than energy crops. In some European areas there is a large pressure on land, in others land abandonment may occur. Agricultural policy is one of the main factors. • Alternative energy sources: Bioenergy is one of the possible alternatives for fossil energy sources. Information is gathered on the forces and policies that promote the use of the biofuels investigated in this study, and those which promote the use of other alternative energy sources (e.g. wind, solar, nuclear). As the information obtained is qualitative and thoroughness differs between the participating countries, the political factors in Chapter 5.4 are discussed qualitatively. 5.2 Socio-economic aspects 5.2.1 Production costs Total production costs of energy crops consist of the sum of the costs of farm activities, transport, preconversion, conversion, logistics and end-use. The quality of the collected data sets differs for some biofuels considerably between the countries. Major differences may be attributed to differences in: • data sources: measured values versus estimates; • year of reference; • availability of data; • inconsistencies (e. g. implausible values). The unexplained variation was in particular large for the phases behind the farm gate. Therefore, this chapter only shows the costs of the farming phase. An overview of these costs in the participating countries is given in Tables 5-1 and 5-2. Table 5-1 Production costs of biofuels at farm level (€/ha yr) Austria Denmark France Germany Greece Italy Nether- Switzer- lands land Triticale 925 791 575 650 Rape seed 798 806 669 811 2,098 Sunflower 697 691 920 Sugar beet 998 1,073 2,134 Hemp 1,581 Miscanthus 1,294 639 540 883 Willow 649 464 910 Wheat straw 147 13 157 29 15 Wood logs 907 575 1,203 Reference: Fallow 446 404 383 365 266 563 1,023 1,503 In Table 5-1 (costs per ha) large differences between countries can be seen, except for triticale. Apart from possible inconsistencies in the data, several reasons can be found. To start with, land prices differ very much between the countries. During cultivation, differences in the production costs for the same crop result from differences in cultivation practices. For instance, in Italy and Greece no sowing is practised on fallow land, whereas seed costs in Switzerland are very high (439 Euro/ha/yr). Another exam-

5.2 Socio-economic aspects 81 ple is the time consumption of soil preparation, which is highest and therefore most expensive in various crops in the Netherlands and in Switzerland. Table 5-2 Production costs of biofuels at farm level (€/GJ useful energy) Austria Denmark France Germany Greece Italy Nether- Switzer- lands land Triticale 12 12 9 11 Rape seed 40 52 43 53 158 Sunflower 55 50 60 Sugar beet 7 17 17 Hemp 16 Miscanthus 1 2 3 4 Willow 4 4 6 Wheat straw 2.0 0.3 1.7 0.3 0.2 Wood logs 7 5 9 Useful energy output after combustion is calculated by the yield per ha * caloric value * efficiency of combustion. The most important explanation for variations in costs per ha is the difference in yields. In general, costs per ha are higher in countries with higher yields. Differences in yields are mainly caused by differences in soil and climate conditions. It is typical that differences in actual yields are most profound with the perennial crops, e.g. for Miscanthus in Germany yield is 14,380 kg/ha and in France 25,600 kg/ha. The same applies for willow, with a yield in Germany of 9,850 kg/ha and in The Netherlands of 19,250 kg/ha. These differences may also be explained by differences in experience with the crop and its cultivation. There was no standard methodology used for assessing yields from relatively new crops. In Table 5-2 (costs per MJ useful energy) the variation between the results is much smaller. This is due to the relation between yields and produced amount of useful energy. The results can be seen as an indication for the attractiveness of various energy crops for farmers. Low costs per MJ means low costs per ha and a high energy yield, thus a high income. Of course the results are only an indication, as conversion costs can be rather high and fuel prices will differ. Furthermore, farmers may have farm specific reasons to grow energy crops. For example, perennial crops are not easy to implement in an intensive arable farm. Conclusions on production costs For the farming phase these can be best be drawn on the basis of Table 5-2: • The most interesting option is heat generation from wheat straw. Straw is a residue, to which only a small part of the production costs is allocated. • The second best options are heat production by willow, Miscanthus and wood logs. The dry matter yields for these perennial energy crops or residues are relatively high. This is reflected in the farmers’ cost range of 1 to 9 Euro/GJ useful energy. • Farm phase costs for triticale (electricity) and sugar beet (ETBE) are slightly higher. • Finally the farming costs for rape seed (RME) and sunflower (SME) production are clearly much higher (around 50 Euro/GJ useful energy). 5.2.2 Employment Data on the effect of biofuels on employment are scarce and mainly concern estimates at a global level. However, some observations can be made. Sector level estimates: in the Community’s “White Paper” (European Commission 1997) it is stated that “biomass has the particularity of creating large numbers of jobs for the production of raw material.” The so-called TERES II study predicts that renewable energy sources (mainly biomass, wind and solar energy) will create 500,000 direct jobs in the renewable sector and indirect jobs in the supplying sec-

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