Integrated Sustainability Assessment for Bioenergy Systems that Predicts Environmental, Economic, and Social Impacts

2019-05-15T12:58:34Z (GMT) by Enze Jin
<p>In the U.S., bioenergy accounts for about 50% of the total renewable energy that is generated. Every stage in the life cycle of using bioenergy (e.g., growing biomass, harvesting biomass, transporting biomass, and converting to fuels or materials) has consequences in terms of the three dimensions of sustainability: economy, environment, and society. An integrated sustainability model (ISM) using system dynamics is developed for a bioenergy system to understand how changes in a bioenergy system influence environmental measures, economic development, and social impacts.<br></p><p><br></p><p>Biomass may be used as a source of energy in a variety of ways. The U.S. corn ethanol system forest residue system for electricity generation, and cellulosic ethanol system have been investigated. Predictions, such as greenhouse gas (GHG) savings, soil carbon sequestration, monetary gain, employment, and social cost of carbon are made for a given temporal scale. For the corn ethanol system, the annual tax revenue created by the ethanol industry can offer a significant benefit to society. For the forest residue system for electricity generation, different policy scenarios varying the bioenergy share of the total electricity generation were identified and examined via the ISM. The results of the scenario analysis indicate that an increase in the bioenergy contribution toward meeting the total electricity demand will stimulate the bioenergy market for electricity generation. For the cellulosic ethanol system, the compliance of cellulosic ethanol can be achieved under the advanced bioconversion technologies and the expansion of energy crops. However, nitrate leaching and biodiversity change should be considered when expanding energy crops on marginal land, pasture, and cropland. Moreover, three bioenergy systems reduce GHG emissions significantly, relative to fossil fuel sources that are displaced, and create economic benefits (e.g., GDP and employment). Additionally, a spatial agent-based modeling is developed to understand farmers’ behaviors of energy crop adoption and the viability of cellulosic biofuel commercialization.<br></p>