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

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Abstract

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.

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Czyrnek-Delêtre, M. M., Chiodi, A., Murphy, J. D., & Ó Gallachóir, B. P. (2016). Impact of including land-use change emissions from biofuels on meeting GHG emissions reduction targets: the example of Ireland. Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy, 18(6), 1745–1758. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10098-016-1145-8

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