Life-cycle assessment of electricity from biomass: Case studies of two biocrops in Spain

Isabela Butnar, Julio Rodrigo, Carles M. Gasol, Francesc Castells

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55 Citations (Scopus)


Through the Renewable Energies Plan 2000-2010, Spain has fixed the objective of covering 12% of the primary energy demand from renewable sources. The achievement of this objective implies an annual increase of 22.4% of the energy produced from renewable sources. In this context, the objective of this study is to determine if the electricity from biomass produced in Spain would be environmentally competitive with electricity from natural gas or from the Spanish electricity mix. For that, the environmental impacts associated to the whole life cycle of two energetic crops in Spain, Poplar and Ethiopian mustard, used for power generation were evaluated. The overall assessment includes the cultivation and collection of biomass, its transport and the processes of its energetic transformation. We calculated different scenarios of electricity production from biomass in different capacity power plants (10, 25 or 50 MW), different transport scenarios and different productivities for biomass production. Our results show that, given the assumptions of this study, Ethiopian mustard is more impacting than Poplar when used for electricity production. Also, the transportation of biomass from the field to the power plant is an important stage that has to be carefully planned in order to get the maximum amount of electricity with a minimum environmental impact. Compared to electricity from natural gas or the Spanish electricity mix, the electricity obtained from biomass is more impacting in three from six impact categories we present here. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1780-1788
JournalBiomass and Bioenergy
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Biofuels
  • Electricity
  • LCA
  • Spain


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