Environmental Management

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 525–530 | Cite as

Bioenergy Sustainability in China: Potential and Impacts

  • Jie Zhuang
  • Randall W. Gentry
  • Gui-Rui Yu
  • Gary S. Sayler
  • John W. Bickham


The sustainability implications of bioenergy development strategies are large and complex. Unlike conventional agriculture, bioenergy production provides an opportunity to design systems for improving eco-environmental services. Different places have different goals and solutions for bioenergy development, but they all should adhere to the sustainability requirements of the environment, economy, and society. This article serves as a brief overview of China’s bioenergy development and as an introduction to this special issue on the impacts of bioenergy development in China. The eleven articles in this special issue present a range of perspectives and scenario analyses on bioenergy production and its impacts as well as potential barriers to its development. Five general themes are covered: status and goals, biomass resources, energy plants, environmental impacts, and economic and social impacts. The potential for bioenergy production in China is huge, particularly in the central north and northwest. China plans to develop a bioenergy capacity of 30GW by 2020. However, realization of this goal will require breakthroughs in bioenergy landscape design, energy plant biotechnology, legislation, incentive policy, and conversion facilities. Our analyses suggest that (1) the linkage between bioenergy, environment, and economy are often circular rather than linear in nature; (2) sustainability is a core concept in bioenergy design and the ultimate goal of bioenergy development; and (3) each bioenergy development scheme must be region-specific and designed to solve local environmental and agricultural problems.


Bioenergy sustainability Emissions Energy plants Marginal land 



This special issue is the outcome of a China-US joint workshop “Bioenergy Consequences for Global Environmental Change” held on October 15-17, 2008 in Beijing and organized by the China-US Joint Research Center for Ecosystem and Environmental Change (JRCEEC; The workshop was jointly funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (Grant Nos. NSF-OISE-0757267), the Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jie Zhuang
    • 1
  • Randall W. Gentry
    • 2
  • Gui-Rui Yu
    • 3
  • Gary S. Sayler
    • 4
  • John W. Bickham
    • 5
  1. 1.Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment, Center for Environmental TechnologyThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Institute for a Secure and Sustainable EnvironmentThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Center for Environmental Biotechnology, UT-ORNL Joint Institute of Biological ScienceThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  5. 5.Center for the Environment, Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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