Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1745–1758 | Cite as

Impact of including land-use change emissions from biofuels on meeting GHG emissions reduction targets: the example of Ireland

  • Magdalena M. Czyrnek-DelêtreEmail author
  • Alessandro Chiodi
  • Jerry D. Murphy
  • Brian P. Ó Gallachóir
Original Paper


The greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions from land-use change are of particular concern for land-based biofuels. Emissions avoided by substituting fossil fuels with biofuels may be offset by emissions from direct and indirect land-use changes (LUC). There is an urgent need to investigate what impact land-use change emissions may have on the expansion of bioenergy and biofuels, in the context of EU mitigation policies. This paper focuses on Ireland, which faces a number of challenges in delivering its renewable energy and GHG reduction targets. The Irish TIMES energy systems model was used to assess the impact of a range of land-use change emissions’ levels on the evolution of Ireland’s low-carbon energy system. A reference scenario was developed where LUC is ignored and Ireland achieves a least-cost low-carbon energy system by 2050. If high indirect land-use change (ILUC) emissions are included, this results in a decrease by 30 % in bioenergy and a 68 % increase in marginal abatement costs by 2050. Hydrogen is used instead of bioenergy in the freight sector in this scenario, while private cars are fuelled by renewable electricity. If GHG emissions from ILUC were considered less severe, indigenous grass biomethane becomes the key biofuel representing 31 % of total bioenergy consumption. This is in line with recent research in Ireland of the key role that grass biomethane can play.


Bioenergy Land-use change Climate mitigation Renewable energy policy Energy systems modelling MARKAL-TIMES 



This research was funded by the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) centre MaREI (12/RC/2302) and by the Environmental Protection Agency (with co-funding from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) under Ireland’s Climate Change Research Programme 2007–2013. Industrial funding is provided by B9 Energy, by Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) through the Green Gas Group and by ERVIA.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MaREI Centre, Environmental Research InstituteUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.Energy Policy and Modelling Group, Environmental Research InstituteUniversity College CorkCorkIreland

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