LCA of poplar bioenergy system compared with Brassica carinata energy crop and natural gas in regional scenario

Carles M. Gasol, Xavier Gabarrell, Assumpció Anton, Miquel Rigola, Juan Carrasco, Pilar Ciria, Joan Rieradevall

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130 Citations (Scopus)


The poplar bioenergy system has been analysed applying life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare its environmental performance to: Ethiopian mustard bioenergy system and natural gas. The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) shows that the use of fertilizers is the highest impact in four of the 10 environmental categories, representing between 39% and 67% of the impact in them. The diesel used in transport vehicles and agricultural tractors also has a significant impact in another five of the 10 analysed categories 40-85%. The poplar bioenergy system contributes to global warming with 1.90-1.98 g CO2 eq MJ-1 biomass produced. The production and transport as far as the thermoelectric plant of the poplar biomass consumes 0.02 MJ of primary energy per 1 MJ of biomass stored. In comparison with Ethiopian mustard and natural gas, it reduces primary energy consumption by 83% and 89% and the greenhouse gas emission by 84% and 89%, respectively. The results of the analysis support that the poplar bioenergy system is viable from an energy balance and environmental perspective for producing energy in southern Europe, as long as it is cultivated in areas where water is available. This latter point and the better environmental performance of both crops in comparison to natural gas allows us to affirm that the combination of several crops adapted to the local agro-climatic conditions of the territory will be the most suitable strategy in Mediterranean areas that wish to reach the global energy production targets in terms of biomass established by the European Union (EU). © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Energy analysis
  • Environmental analysis
  • Ethiopian mustard
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Natural gas
  • Poplar


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