Energy efficiency for rapeseed biodiesel production in different farming systems
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Due to mounting concerns related to fossil fuel use and problems with their supply, the use of alternative sources of energy is increasing. One of the alternative sources is biomass and the European Union has adopted a biofuel directive that describes targets for the use of biofuels in the transport sector. The majority of biofuels produced in Europe comes from rapeseed. In this study, we focused on analyzing the efficiency of rapeseed biodiesel production. Energy efficiency in terms of Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) was analyzed for two EU countries (Poland and The Netherlands) with different agro-ecological systems. Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) accounted for inputs, processes and outputs of energy in the biodiesel production system. Input parameters were derived from literature as well as from farmer’s interviews. The use of the outputs—straw, meal, and glycerin—were included in the LCI system boundary. The EROEI values ranged from 1.73 to 2.36 in Poland and from 2.18 to 2.60 in the Netherlands. The low number of respondents makes it risky to draw hard conclusions about these values but the patterns observed show that intensifying the production process and increasing yield bears very little or no benefit in terms of energy produced. Due to a higher amount of organic manure and consequently lower amount of artificial fertilizers used in crop growth in the Netherlands, the rapeseed biodiesel production system in the Netherlands is more efficient than in Poland. In both cases, the EROEI is quite low. More detailed spatial energy efficiency assessments are required to determine if and where sustainable production may be possible.
KeywordsBiofuel Energy efficiency EROEI LCA LCI RME
This study was enabled by European funding in the form of an Erasmus Mundus Scholarship for the first author. We are highly indebted to the Polish and Dutch rapeseed farmers, who participated in this research. We also would like to thank Antoon Kleverkamp (Colzaco) and Joep Hermans (Carnola) for their valuable information on rapeseed farming and rapeseed biofuel production. Joanna Sopyło is acknowledged for translating the questionnaire into Polish and assisting in interviewing farmers during the study. A. Voinov was partially supported by the BE2.0 (Bioenergy for Overijssel) project. We also thank the reviewers for their valuable comments on the manuscript.
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