116 results found
Croker AR, Woods J, Kountouris Y, 2023, Changing fire regimes in East and Southern Africa’s savanna-protected areas: opportunities and challenges for indigenous-led savanna burning emissions abatement schemes, Fire Ecology, Vol: 19
Background: Late dry-season wildfires in sub-Saharan Africa’s savanna-protected areas are intensifying, increasing carbon emissions, and threatening ecosystem functioning. Addressing these challenges requires active local community engagement and support for wildfire policy. Savanna burning emissions abatement schemes first implemented in Northern Australia have been proposed as a community-based fire management strategy for East and Southern Africa’s protected areas to deliver win–win-win climate, social, and biodiversity benefits. Here, we review and critically examine the literature exploring the design and application of savanna burning emissions abatement schemes in this region, characterizing their contextual and implementation challenges. Results: We show that the application of Northern Australian savanna burning methodologies in East and Southern Africa tends to adopt centrally determined objectives and market-based approaches that prioritize carbon revenue generation at the national level. The exclusive prescription of early-dry season burns in African mesic savannas prone to woody thickening can compromise savanna burning objectives to mitigate late-dry season wildfires and their greenhouse gas emissions in the long-term, as well as present multiple biodiversity trade-offs in the absence of formal metrics monitoring species’ responses to changes in fire regime. These features restrict indigenous participation and leadership in fire management, creating uncertainties over the opportunities for local income generation through carbon trading. Findings suggest that future savanna burning applications will need to address asymmetries between formal institutions and local land governance systems, explicitly acknowledging colonial legacies in institutional arrangements across protected areas and hierarchies in agrarian politics that threaten processes of equitable decentralization in natural resource management. Conclusion: We argue that
Croker AR, Woods J, Kountouris Y, 2023, Community‐based fire management in East and Southern African savanna‐protected areas: a review of the published evidence, Earth's Future, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-18, ISSN: 2328-4277
The introduction of fire suppression policies and expansion of exclusionary protected areas in East and Southern African savannas have engendered a wildfire paradox. Outside protected areas, livestock have replaced fire as the dominant fuel consumer. Inside their boundaries, wildfire intensity has increased due to accumulating flammable biomass. Community-Based Fire Management (CBFiM) is recognized as an alternative fire management strategy to address the wildfire paradox and promote equitable fire governance across conservation landscapes. Yet, there has been little investigation into the implementation and effectiveness of CBFiM across East and Southern Africa's savanna-protected areas. Here we employ a social-ecological systems framework to develop a systematic map of the published literature on the framing and features of CBFiM in this context. We characterize the challenges and opportunities for their design and implementation, focusing on the relationship between governance systems and community participation in fire management. We find that CBFiM projects are commonly governed by the state and international non-governmental organisations who retain decision-making power and determine access to savanna resources and fire use. Existing CBFiM projects are limited to communal rangelands and are developed within existing Community-Based Natural Resource Management programs prioritizing fire prevention and suppression. Planned CBFiM projects propose an exclusive early-dry season patch mosaic burning regime to incorporate indigenous fire knowledge into modern management frameworks, but evidence of indigenous and local peoples' involvement is scarce. To provide equitable fire management, CBFiM projects need to address inequalities embedded in protected area governance and centralized suppression policies, and account for changing state-society and intra-society relations across the region.
Hoseinpoori P, Hanna R, Woods J, et al., 2023, Comparing alternative pathways for the future role of the gas grid in a low-carbon heating system, Energy Strategy Reviews, Vol: 49, Pages: 1-25, ISSN: 2211-467X
This paper uses a whole-system approach to examine different strategies related to the future role of the gas grid in alow-carbon heat system. A novel model of integrated gas, electricity and heat systems, HEGIT, is used to investigate fourkey sets of scenarios for the future of the gas grid using the UK as a case study: a) complete electrification of heating; b)conversion of the existing gas grid to deliver hydrogen; c) a hybrid heat pump system; and d) a greener gas grid. Ourresults indicate that although the infrastructure requirements, the fuel or resource mix, and the breakdown of costs varysignificantly over the complete electrification to complete conversion of the gas grid to hydrogen spectrum, the total systemtransition cost is relatively similar. This reduces the significance of total system cost as a guiding factor in policy decisionson the future of the gas grid. Furthermore, we show that determining the roles of low-carbon gases and electrification fordecarbonising heating is better guided by the trade-offs between short- and long-term energy security risks in the system,as well as trade-offs between consumer investment in fuel switching and infrastructure requirements for decarbonisingheating. Our analysis of these trade-offs indicates that although electrification of heating using heat pumps is not thecheapest option to decarbonise heat, it has clear co-benefits as it reduces fuel security risks and dependency on carboncapture and storage infrastructure. Combining different strategies, such as grid integration of heat pumps with increasedthermal storage capacity and installing hybrid heat pumps with gas boilers on the consumer side, are demonstrated toeffectively moderate the infrastructure requirements, consumer costs and reliability risks of widespread electrification.Further reducing demand on the electricity grid can be accomplished by complementary options at the system level, suchas partial carbon offsetting using negative emission technologies
Moreno J, Van de Ven D-J, Sampedro J, et al., 2023, Assessing synergies and trade-offs of diverging Paris-compliant mitigation strategies with long-term SDG objectives, Global Environmental Change, Vol: 78, ISSN: 0959-3780
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement are the two transformative agendas, which set the benchmarks for nations to address urgent social, economic and environmental challenges. Aside from setting long-term goals, the pathways followed by nations will involve a series of synergies and trade-offs both between and within these agendas. Since it will not be possible to optimise across the 17 SDGs while simultaneously transitioning to low-carbon societies, it will be necessary to implement policies to address the most critical aspects of the agendas and understand the implications for the other dimensions. Here, we rely on a modelling exercise to analyse the long-term implications of a variety of Paris-compliant mitigation strategies suggested in the recent scientific literature on multiple dimensions of the SDG Agenda. The strategies included rely on technological solutions such as renewable energy deployment or carbon capture and storage, nature-based solutions such as afforestation and behavioural changes in the demand side. Results for a selection of energy-environment SDGs suggest that some mitigation pathways could have negative implications on food and water prices, forest cover and increase pressure on water resources depending on the strategy followed, while renewable energy shares, household energy costs, ambient air pollution and yield impacts could be improved simultaneously while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, results indicate that promoting changes in the demand side could be beneficial to limit potential trade-offs.
Hoseinpoori P, Woods J, Shah N, 2023, An integrated framework for optimal infrastructure planning for decarbonising heating, MethodsX, Vol: 10, Pages: 1-18, ISSN: 2215-0161
This paper presents the HEGIT (Heat, Electricity and Gas Infrastructure and Technology) model for optimal infrastructure planning for decarbonising heating in buildings. HEGIT is an optimisation model based on Mixed Integer Linear Programming. The model co-optimises the integrated operation and capacity expansion planning of electricity and gas grids as well as heating technologies on the consumer side while maintaining the security of supply and subject to different environmental, operational and system-wide constraints. The three main features of the HEGIT model are:• It incorporates an integrated unit commitment and capacity expansion problem for coordinated operation and long-term investment planning of the electricity and gas grids.• It incorporates the flexible operation of heating technologies in buildings and demand response in operation and long-term investment planning of gas and electricity grids.• It incorporates a multi-scale techno-economic representation of heating technologies design features into the whole energy system modelling and capacity planning.These features enable the model to quantify the impacts of different policies regarding decarbonising heating in buildings on the operation and long-term planning of electricity and gas grids, identify the cost-optimal use of available resources and technologies and identify strategies for maximising synergies between system planning goals and minimising trade-offs. Moreover, the multi-scale feature of the model allows for multi-scale system engineering analysis of decarbonising heating, including system-informed heating technology design, identifying optimal operational setups at the consumer end, and assessing trade-offs between consumer investment in heating technologies and infrastructure requirements in different heat decarbonisation pathways.
Hoseinpoori P, 2022, Optimal infrastructure planning fordecarbonising low-temperature heat
In the United Kingdom, heating in buildings is one of the largest energy-consuming sectors and a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, decarbonising heating is essential to reaching the legally binding net zero target of 2050. This dissertation uses a whole-system modelling approach for optimal infrastructure planning for decarbonising heating in buildings. We developed the HEGIT (Heat, Electricity and Gas Infrastructure and Technology) model to analyse the coordinated planning of electricity, gas and heating systems as well as assess the effects of different policies and strategies for decarbonising heating on the operation and long-term planning of the electricity and gas grids. Moreover, we soft-linked HEGIT with the thermodynamic and component-costing model of heat pumps in order to conduct a multi-scale analysis of heat electrification and evaluate the impacts of different heat pump design features and smart operational and investment schemes on the operation and long-term planning of electricity and gas grids.We used the HEGIT model in three case studies to investigate some of the key issues surrounding heat decarbonisation in the UK. In the first case study, we examined different pathways for decarbonising heating in the context of different scenarios for the future of the gas grid and identified cost-optimal strategies in which decarbonising heating in buildings could contribute to achieving other policy objectives, such as energy security. In the second case study, we looked into smart planning strategies and operational schemes on the consumer side that can enhance the system value of electrifying heating and explored the trade-offs between consumers’ investment in fuel switching and infrastructure requirements for decarbonising heating. Lastly, we used HEGIT for system-informed heat pump design and studied the electrification of heating using heat pumps from an engineering perspective. This was done through conducting a sequential mul
Fatima B, Bibi F, Ishtiaq Ali M, et al., 2022, Accompanying effects of sewage sludge and pine needle biochar with selected organic additives on the soil and plant variables, Waste Management, Vol: 153, Pages: 197-208, ISSN: 0956-053X
The effects of synthetic fertilizer and nutrient leaching are causing serious problems impacting soil function and its fertility. Mitigation of nutrient leaching and use of chemical fertilizer is crucial as fertile land adds up sustainability to climate changes. Biochar produced from agricultural bio-waste and municipal solid waste has been used for crop production and when applied in combination with organic nutrients may support mitigation of nutrient loss and adverse effects of chemical fertilizers. Different types of biochar and their application for soil enhancement have been observed, pine needle and sewage sludge derived low-temperature biochar along with compost, organic fertilizer in the form of manure and microalgal biomass may interact with soil chemistry and plant growth to impact nutrient loss and compensate the hazardous effect of chemical fertilizer, but it has not been investigated yet. This present study elaborates application of sewage sludge and pine needle biochar produced at 400 °C in an application rate of 5 % w/w and 10 t h-1 in combination with compost, manure and microalgal biomasses of Closteriopsis acicularis (BM1) and Tetradesmus nygaardi (BM2) on the growth of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) and Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) crop assessed in a pot experiment over a two crop (Chickpea - Fenugreek) cycle in Pakistan. Results depict that the pine needle biochar with additives has increased plant height by 104.1 ± 2.76 cm and fresh biomass by 49.9 ± 1.02 g, buffered the soil pH to 6.5 for optimum growth of crops and enhance carbon retention by 36 %. This study highlights the valorization of sewage sludge and pine needle into biochar and the effect of biochar augmentation, its impact on soil nutrients and plant biomass enhancement. The greener approach also mitigates and helps in the sustainable management of solid wastes.
Garcia J, Mwabonje O, Woods J, 2022, Optimizing climate related Global development pathways in the Global Calculator using Monte Carlo Markov Chains and genetic algorithms, Carbon Management, Vol: 13, Pages: 497-510, ISSN: 1758-3004
Novel pathway optimization methods are presented using the 'Global Calculator’ model and webtool1 to goal-seek within a set of optimization constraints. The Global Calculator (GC) is a model used to forecast climate-related develop pathways for the world’s energy, food and land systems to 2050. The optimization methods enable the GC’s user to specify optimization constraints and return a combination of input parameters that satisfy them. The optimization methods evaluated aim to address the challenge of efficiently navigating the GC's ample parameter space (8e70 parameter combinations) using Monte Carlo Markov Chains and genetic algorithms. The optimization methods are used to calculate an optimal input combination of the ‘lever’ settings in the GC that satisfy twelve input constraints while minimizing cumulative CO2 emissions and maximizing GDP output. This optimal development pathway yields a prediction to 2100 of 2,835 GtCO2 cumulative emissions and a 3.7% increase in GDP with respect to the “business as usual” pathway defined by the International Energy Agency, the IEA’s 6DS scenario, a likely extension of current trends. At a similar or lower ambition level as the benchmark scenarios considered to date (distributed effort, consumer reluctance, low action on forests and consumer activism), the optimal pathway shows a significant decrease in CO2 emissions and increased GDP. The chosen optimization method presented here enables the generation of optimal, user defined/constrained, bespoke pathways to sustainability, relying on the Global Calculator’s whole system approach and assumptions.
Hoseinpoori P, Olympios AV, Markides CN, et al., 2022, A whole-system approach for quantifying the value of smart electrification for decarbonising heating in buildings, Energy Conversion and Management, Vol: 268, Pages: 1-24, ISSN: 0196-8904
This paper uses a whole system approach to examine system design and planning strategies that enhance the system value of electrifying heating and identify trade-offs between consumers’ investment and infrastructure requirements for decarbonising heating in buildings. We present a novel integrated model of heat, electricity and gas systems, HEGIT, to investigate different heat electrification strategies using the UK as the case study from two perspectives: (i) a system planning perspective regarding the scope and timing of electrification; and (ii) a demand-side perspective regarding the operational and investment schemes on the consumer side. Our results indicate that complete electrification of heating increases peak electricity demand by 170%, resulting in a 160% increase in the required installed capacity in the electricity grid. However, this effect can be moderated by implementing smart demand-side schemes. Grid integration of heat pumps combined with thermal storage at the consumer-end was shown to unlock significant potential for diurnal load shifting, thereby reducing the electricity grid reinforcement requirements. For example, our results show that a 5 b£ investment in such demand-side flexibility schemes can reduce the total system transition cost by about 22 b£ compared to the case of relying solely on supply-side flexibility. In such a case, it is also possible to reduce consumer investment by lowering the output temperature of heat pumps from 55 °C to 45 °C and sharing the heating duty with electric resistance heaters. Furthermore, our results suggest that, when used at a domestic scale, ground-source heat pumps offer limited system value since their advantages (lower peak demand and reduced variations in electric heating loads) can instead be provided by grid-integration of air-source heat pumps and increased thermal storage capacity at a lower cost to consumers and with additional flexibility benefits for the electricity gr
Mason AR, Gathorne-Hardy A, White C, et al., 2022, Resource requirements for ecosystem conservation: A combined industrial and natural ecology approach to quantifying natural capital use in nature, Ecology and Evolution, Vol: 12, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 2045-7758
Socioeconomic demand for natural capital is causing catastrophic losses of biodiversity and ecosystem functionality, most notably in regions where socioeconomic-and eco-systems compete for natural capital, e.g., energy (animal or plant matter). However, a poor quantitative understanding of what natural capital is needed to support biodiversity in ecosystems, while at the same time satisfy human development needs—those associated with human development within socioeconomic systems—undermines our ability to sustainably manage global stocks of natural capital. Here we describe a novel concept and accompanying methodology (relating the adult body mass of terrestrial species to their requirements for land area, water, and energy) to quantify the natural capital needed to support terrestrial species within ecosystems, analogous to how natural capital use by humans is quantified in a socioeconomic context. We apply this methodology to quantify the amount of natural capital needed to support species observed using a specific surveyed site in Scotland. We find that the site can support a larger assemblage of species than those observed using the site; a primary aim of the rewilding project taking place there. This method conceptualises, for the first time, a comprehensive “dual-system” approach: modelling natural capital use in socioeconomic-and eco-systems simultaneously. It can facilitate the management of natural capital at the global scale, and in both the conservation and creation (e.g., rewilding) of biodiversity within managed ecosystems, representing an advancement in determining what socioeconomic trade-offs are needed to achieve contemporary conservation targets alongside ongoing human development.
Nunes Ferraz Junior AD, Etchebehere C, Perecin D, et al., 2022, Advancing anaerobic digestion of sugarcane vinasse: Current development, struggles and future trends on production and end-uses of biogas in Brazil, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Vol: 157, Pages: 1-16, ISSN: 1364-0321
Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a multipurpose technology. One of the AD outcomes is biogas that can be used to supply a local thermal demand, electricity generation or upgraded to fuel vehicle. Brazil has the largest potential for producing biogas, due to its extensive agroindustrial production plus the fact that the country has a population of over 210 million inhabitants. The Brazilian Association of Biogas and Biomethane (ABiogás) reports a potential biogas production of 41.4 billion m3 per year in the sugar-energy sector. However, less than 2% of this is achieved, indicating that the biogas is still chemically, economically, and politically invisible. The current technologies for the production, purification and end-use of biogas/biomethane were reviewed and presented in the context of sugarcane biorefineries. One of the major findings has indicated a thermal efficiency of 85% and a national grid surplus of 74–121 kWh.ton−1 sugarcane when steam boilers connected to electricity generators are used. Alternatively, a quarter of the vinasse generated by a medium-size sugarcane mill (600 m3 d−1) would be enough to supply the diesel consumption of on agricultural operations. The motivation of this review came from the fact that normally renewable energy does not reach its potential due to the lack of references on technological, regulatory and management in their productive arrangements: essential aspects to make them feasible. Therefore, it is expected to strengthen the panorama of research in the biogas system to properly fit with the current expansion and diversification of the Brazilian energy matrix.
Nunes Ferraz Júnior AD, Machado PG, Jalil-Vega F, et al., 2022, Liquefied biomethane from sugarcane vinasse and municipal solid waste: Sustainable fuel for a green-gas heavy duty road freight transport corridor in Sao Paulo state, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol: 335, Pages: 1-19, ISSN: 0959-6526
Diversifying the energy components of a country's transport sector is essential to guarantee the fuel supply to consumers and increase the market dynamics and competitiveness. Among the known alternative fuels, biogas is a renewable source and after upgrading to biomethane, it presents a similar composition to natural gas (>90% of CH4; 35–40 MJ m−3). In addition, it can be produced from a wide variety of biological resources and at different scales In this study, two scenarios have been developed that evaluate the use of liquefied biomethane (LBM) as a diesel replacement option in the freight sector of an area of 248,223 km2 (equivalent to the area of the UK). Sugarcane vinasse (SVC) and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) were the sole feedstocks for biogas production. The first scenario, non-restricted scenario (NRS), covered the entire territory while, the second scenario, restricted scenario (RS), includes only the area where gas pipelines are available. An economic assessment of the entire biogas value chain including, biogas production units, purification, transport and end-use was performed. The minimum selling price (MSP) of biomethane throughout the biogas chain was then estimated. LBM is estimated to be a cost-effective and affordable fuel choice compared to diesel. The technical potential of biogas production by the sugarcane mills and landfills of Sao Paulo state can replace up to half of the diesel consumed in the territory. The minimum distances and optimal locations methodology indicated the need for 120 liquefaction plants in the NRS, 35 injection points in the RS, and 7 refuelling stations to supply LBM throughout the state of Sao Paulo. The units for CO2 removal had the greatest influence on capital costs (∼60%) in both scenarios. Expenditure associated with the gas injection operation and its transport comprised more than 90% of the operating costs of the RS. Electricity purchasing represented the highest share of the operating costs at
Strapasson A, Ferreira M, Cruz-Cano D, et al., 2022, The use of system dynamics for energy and environmental education, International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, Vol: 19, Pages: 1-31, ISSN: 2365-9440
The use of system dynamics as a learning tool for developing sustainable energy strategies and environmental education has advanced in recent years with the availability of new modelling software and webtools. Among the existing models, we highlight the online 2050 Calculators, which aim at simulating scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions, energy planning, sustainable land use, and food consumption. The objective of this study is to assess the available calculators and their contribution to an interdisciplinary education via systems thinking. We carried out a review of the existing models worldwide and ran some of the tools with students from three different postgraduate programmes at master’s level at Imperial College London (United Kingdom) and IFP School (France), whilst also assessing their individual views afterwards. The assessments were conducted once a year during three subsequent years: 2019, 2020, and 2021. The results are discussed under the epistemology of critical pedagogy, showing that the use of webtools, such as the 2050 Calculators, can significantly contribute to thestudents’ environmental awareness and political engagement, providing important lessons about the use of system dynamics for policy and science education.
Stevenson S, Collins A, Jennings N, et al., 2021, A hybrid approach to identifying and assessing interactions between climate action (SDG13) policies and a range of SDGs in a UK context (vol 2, 43, 2021), DISCOVER SUSTAINABILITY, Vol: 2
Stevenson S, Collins A, Jennings N, et al., 2021, A hybrid approach to identifying and assessing interactions between climate action (SDG13) policies and a range of SDGs in a UK context, Discover Sustainability, Vol: 2, ISSN: 2662-9984
In 2015 the United Nations drafted the Paris Agreement and established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all nations. A question of increasing relevance is the extent to which the pursuit of climate action (SDG 13) interacts both positively and negatively with other SDGs. We tackle this question through a two-pronged approach: a novel, automated keyword search to identify linkages between SDGs and UK climate-relevant policies; and a detailed expert survey to evaluate these linkages through specific examples. We consider a particular subset of SDGs relating to health, economic growth, affordable and clean energy and sustainable cities and communities. Overall, we find that of the 89 UK climate-relevant policies assessed, most are particularly interlinked with the delivery of SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) and SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and that certain UK policies, like the Industrial Strategy and 25-Year Environment Plan, interlink with a wide range of SDGs. Focusing on these climate-relevant policies is therefore likely to deliver a wide range of synergies across SDGs 3 (Good Health and Well-being), 7, 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), 11, 14 (Life Below Water) and 15 (Life on Land). The expert survey demonstrates that in addition to the range of mostly synergistic interlinkages identified in the keyword search, there are also important potential trade-offs to consider. Our analysis provides an important new toolkit for the research and policy communities to consider interactions between SDGs, which can be employed across a range of national and international contexts.
Sevigné-Itoiz E, Mwabonje O, Panoutsou C, et al., 2021, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): informing the development of a Sustainable Circular Bioeconomy, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol: 379, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 1364-503X
The role of LCA in informing the development of a sustainable and circular bioeconomyis discussed. We analyse the critical challenges remaining in using LCA and propose improvements needed to resolve future development challenges. Biobased systems are often complex combinations of technologies and practices that are geographically dispersed overlong distances and with heterogeneous and uncertain sets of indicators and impacts. Recent studies have provided methodological suggestions on how LCA can be improved for evaluating the sustainability of biobased systems with a new focus on emerging systems, helping to identify environmental and social opportunities prior to large R&D investments. However, accessing economies of scale and improved conversion efficiencies whilst maintaining compatibility across broad ranges of sustainability indicators and public acceptability remain key challenges for the bioeconomy. LCA can inform, but not by itself resolve this complex dimension of sustainability. Future policy interventions that aim to promote the bioeconomy and support strategic value chains will benefit from the systematic use of LCA. However, the LCA community needs to develop the mechanisms and tools needed to generate agreement and coordinate the standards and incentives that will underpin a successful biobased transition. Systematic stakeholder engagement and the use of multidisciplinary analysis in combination with LCA are essential components of emergent LCA methods.
Strapasson A, Falcão J, Rossberg T, et al., 2021, Land Use Change and the European Biofuels Policy: The expansion of oilseed feedstocks on lands with high carbon stocks, Turkey, 3rd Bioenergy Studies Symposium, Publisher: TAGEM and UNIDO, Pages: 69-69
Cowie AL, Berndes G, Bentsen NS, et al., 2021, Applying a science‐based systems perspective to dispel misconceptions about climate effects of forest bioenergy, GCB Bioenergy, Vol: 13, Pages: 1210-1231, ISSN: 1757-1693
The scientific literature contains contrasting findings about the climate effects of forest bioenergy, partly due to the wide diversity of bioenergy systems and associated contexts, but also due to differences in assessment methods. The climate effects of bioenergy must be accurately assessed to inform policy-making, but the complexity of bioenergy systems and associated land, industry and energy systems raises challenges for assessment. We examine misconceptions about climate effects of forest bioenergy and discuss important considerations in assessing these effects and devising measures to incentivize sustainable bioenergy as a component of climate policy. The temporal and spatial system boundary and the reference (counterfactual) scenarios are key methodology choices that strongly influence results. Focussing on carbon balances of individual forest stands and comparing emissions at the point of combustion neglect system-level interactions that influence the climate effects of forest bioenergy. We highlight the need for a systems approach, in assessing options and developing policy for forest bioenergy that: (1) considers the whole life cycle of bioenergy systems, including effects of the associated forest management and harvesting on landscape carbon balances; (2) identifies how forest bioenergy can best be deployed to support energy system transformation required to achieve climate goals; and (3) incentivizes those forest bioenergy systems that augment the mitigation value of the forest sector as a whole. Emphasis on short-term emissions reduction targets can lead to decisions that make medium- to long-term climate goals more difficult to achieve. The most important climate change mitigation measure is the transformation of energy, industry and transport systems so that fossil carbon remains underground. Narrow perspectives obscure the significant role that bioenergy can play by displacing fossil fuels now, and supporting energy system transition. Greater transp
Kakadellis S, Woods J, Harris ZM, 2021, Friend or foe: Stakeholder attitudes towards biodegradable plastic packaging in food waste anaerobic digestion, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Vol: 169, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 0921-3449
Consumers are becoming increasingly attuned to sustainability issues in the food supply chain and demanding retailers to keep pace with their changing expectations. The visual nature of plastic pollution has strengthened public awareness of the environmental impact of plastic packaging. Against this backdrop, biodegradable plastics have been promoted as an alternative to conventional polymers, offering the potential to tackle hard-to-recycle plastics while being compatible with food waste recycling. Given increased recognition of food waste as an untapped resource worldwide and the incoming policy mandating separate collections for household and commercial food waste across the EU from 2023, anaerobic digestion is a particularly promising strategy and can make an important contribution to the transition to circular waste management practices. However, currently no industrial standard exists for ‘digestible’ packaging. Our research addresses stakeholder attitudes towards the treatment of biodegradable plastic packaging in food waste anaerobic digestion. We conducted 19 semi-structured interviews with a range of stakeholders, including the biowaste recycling sector, retail, governmental bodies and environmental charities. Qualitative data were categorised into thematic nodes based on inductive and deductive strategies. Content analysis showed significantly divergent views on biodegradable plastics. Though most respondents acknowledged the merits of biodegradable plastics, concerns over their compatibility with the current anaerobic digestion infrastructure (e.g. systematic depackaging, retention times) and their ultimate biodegradability were raised. In light of these issues, potential solutions are discussed and the role that legislation and consumer education can play in ensuring that the anaerobic digestion sector can accommodate these novel materials are highlighted.
Vallejo L, Mazur C, Strapasson A, et al., 2021, Halving Global CO2 Emissions by 2050: Technologies and Costs, International Energy Journal, Vol: 21, Pages: 147-158, ISSN: 1513-718X
This study provides a whole-systems simulation on how to halve global CO2 emissions by 2050, compared to 2010, with an emphasis on technologies and costs, in order to avoid a dangerous increase in the global mean surface temperature by end the of this century. There still remains uncertainty as to how much a low-carbon energy system costs compared to a high-carbon system. Integrated assessment models (IAMs) show a large range of costs of mitigation towards the 2°C target, with up to an order of magnitude difference between the highest and lowest cost, depending on a number of factors including model structure, technology availability and costs, and the degree of feedback with the wider macro-economy. A simpler analysis potentially serves to highlight where costs fall and to what degree. Here we show that the additional cost of a low-carbon energy system is less than 1% of global GDP more than a system resulting from low mitigation effort. The proposed approach aligns with some previous IAMs and other projections discussed in the paper, whilst also providing a clearer and more detailed view of the world. Achieving this system by 2050, with CO2 emissions of about 15GtCO2, depends heavily on decarbonisation of the electricity sector to around 100gCO2/kWh, as well as on maximising energy efficiency potential across all sectors. This scenario would require a major mitigation effort in all the assessed world regions. However, in order to keep the global mean surface temperature increase below 1.5°C, it would be necessary to achieve net-zero emission by 2050, requiring a much further mitigation effort.
Ni Y, Richter GM, Mwabonje ON, et al., 2020, Novel integrated agricultural land management approach provides sustainable biomass feedstocks for bioplastics and supports the UK’s “net-zero” target, Environmental Research Letters, Vol: 16, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 1748-9326
We investigate the potential in producing biodegradable bio-plastics to support the emergent 'Net-Zero' Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions targets in the UK. A 'cradle to grave' Life Cycle Assessment was developed to evaluate GHG mitigation potentials of bio-based polybutylene succinate plastics produced from wheat straw-only (single feedstock) or wheat straw plus Miscanthus (mixed feedstocks) agricultural supply systems. For scenarios using mixed feedstocks, significant carbon mitigation potentials were identified at catchment and national levels (emission reduction of 30 kg CO2eq /kg plastic compared to petroleum-based alternatives), making the system studied a significant net carbon sink at marginal GHG abatement costs of £-0.5 to 14.9 /t CO2eq. We show that an effective 'Net-Zero' transition of the UK's agricultural sector needs spatially explicit, diversified and integrated cropping strategies. Such integration of perennial bio-materials into food production systems can unlock cost-effective terrestrial carbon sequestration. Research & Development and scale-up will lower costs helping deliver a sustainable bioeconomy and transition to 'Net-Zero'.
Dale BE, Bozzetto S, Couturier C, et al., 2020, The potential for expanding sustainable biogas production and some possible impacts in specific countries, Biofuels Bioproducts & Biorefining-Biofpr, Vol: 14, Pages: 1335-1347, ISSN: 1932-1031
Current food production practices tend to damage and deplete soil, diminish biodiversity, and degrade water supplies. For agriculture to become environmentally sustainable and simultaneously increase food output for a growing world population, fundamental changes in agricultural production systems are required. Renewable energy can reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) but we also need simple, low‐cost approaches to remove atmospheric carbon and sequester it in stable forms. Recycling of digestate from the anaerobic digestion of agricultural and waste materials to soils can sequester atmospheric carbon and provide many other economic, social and environmental benefits. Biogasdoneright™ (BDR) is a set of practices that link biogas production with sustainable agriculture. The BDR approach to sustainable agriculture is being implemented on a large scale in Italy. In this paper, we examine the potential impact of implementing BDR in selected other countries. The biomethane potential in these countries, estimated conservatively, varies from about 10–30% of their current annual natural gas consumption. Biomethane from sequential (double) crops provides by far the greatest fraction of the biomethane potential. Double cropping also drives many of the environmental and economic benefits of BDR systems. Depending on where and how widely it is implemented, the production of biogas in BDR systems could have very significant national‐level impacts. For example, sufficient biomethane could be produced in Argentina to completely eliminate imports of natural gas, equivalent to about 28% of Argentina's 2017 trade deficit. In the USA, renewable biogas could generate electricity equal to nearly all of the electricity currently produced by domestic solar and wind resources. © 2020 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Anejionu OCD, Di Lucia L, Woods J, 2020, Geospatial modelling of environmental and socioeconomic impacts of large-scale production of advanced biofuel, Biomass and Bioenergy, Vol: 142, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 0961-9534
Seferidi P, Scrinis G, Huybrechts I, et al., 2020, The neglected environmental impacts of ultra-processed foods, The Lancet Planetary Health, Vol: 4, Pages: e437-e438, ISSN: 2542-5196
Strapasson A, Woods J, Meessen J, et al., 2020, EU land use futures: modelling food, bioenergy and carbon dynamics, Energy Strategy Reviews, Vol: 31, Pages: 100545-100545, ISSN: 2211-467X
This paper presents an original system dynamics model, which aims to assess how changes in diet, agricultural practices, bioenergy and forestry could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We demonstrate that changes in types and quantities of food consumed and reductions in food wastes along with sustainable bioenergy and forestry dynamics would materially assist the EU in meeting its 2050 climate mitigation obligations. We find that overall rates of EU-28 greenhouse gas emissions are highly sensitive to the food trade balance, both within and outside the EU. Land use itself is often under-represented as a major option for carbon mitigation in policy strategies, but our results show that it must become a central component aligned with energy system decarbonization if material levels of warming mitigation are to be achieved.
Hannon JR, Lynd LR, Andrade O, et al., 2020, Technoeconomic and life-cycle analysis of single-step catalytic conversion of wet ethanol into fungible fuel blendstocks, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol: 117, Pages: 12576-12583, ISSN: 0027-8424
Technoeconomic and life-cycle analyses are presented for catalytic conversion of ethanol to fungible hydrocarbon fuel blendstocks, informed by advances in catalyst and process development. Whereas prior work toward this end focused on 3-step processes featuring dehydration, oligomerization, and hydrogenation, the consolidated alcohol dehydration and oligomerization (CADO) approach described here results in 1-step conversion of wet ethanol vapor (40 wt% in water) to hydrocarbons and water over a metal-modified zeolite catalyst. A development project increased liquid hydrocarbon yields from 36% of theoretical to >80%, reduced catalyst cost by an order of magnitude, scaled up the process by 300-fold, and reduced projected costs of ethanol conversion 12-fold. Current CADO products conform most closely to gasoline blendstocks, but can be blended with jet fuel at low levels today, and could potentially be blended at higher levels in the future. Operating plus annualized capital costs for conversion of wet ethanol to fungible blendstocks are estimated at $2.00/GJ for CADO today and $1.44/GJ in the future, similar to the unit energy cost of producing anhydrous ethanol from wet ethanol ($1.46/GJ). Including the cost of ethanol from either corn or future cellulosic biomass but not production incentives, projected minimum selling prices for fungible blendstocks produced via CADO are competitive with conventional jet fuel when oil is $100 per barrel but not at $60 per barrel. However, with existing production incentives, the projected minimum blendstock selling price is competitive with oil at $60 per barrel. Life-cycle greenhouse gas emission reductions for CADO-derived hydrocarbon blendstocks closely follow those for the ethanol feedstock.
Strapasson A, Woods J, Pérez-Cirera V, et al., 2020, Modelling carbon mitigation pathways by 2050: insights from the global calculator, Energy Strategy Reviews, Vol: 29, Pages: 100494-100494, ISSN: 2211-467X
The Global Calculator (GC) can be used to assess a wide range of climate change mitigation pathways. The GC is an accessible integrated model which calculates the cumulative emissions of a basket of the main greenhouse gases that result from a set of technological and lifestyle choices made at the global level and as defined by the user within a single system dynamics tool. Using the GC, we simulated ambitious scenarios against business as usual trends in order to stay below 2oC and 1.5oC of maximum temperature change by the end of this century and carried out a sensitivity analysis of the entire GC model option space. We show that the calculator is useful for making broad simulations for energy, carbon and land use dynamics, and demonstrate how combined and sustained mitigation efforts across different sectors are urgently needed to meet climate targets.
Woods J, Hoare V, 2020, Comprehending Climate Complexities: The Global and European Calculators are tools that can be used for both exploring the future of our climate and working out what can be done about it., GEOExPro
Strapasson A, Mwabonje O, Woods J, et al., 2020, Pathways towards a fair and just net-zero emissions Europe by 2050: Insights from the EUCalc for carbon mitigation strategies, Publisher: European Commission, 9
HEADLINES:• Achieving socially just and sustainable transition to a net-zero emissions Europe by 2050 requires urgent and substantive changes in the use of technology and the behavioural choices of its people. • These changes will be pervasive, covering all sectors of the economy, from transport, manufacturing, agriculture and power generation. The choices we make as individuals and as national governments of services and goods we produce and consume, e.g. the foods we grow and eat, the sizes of our households and how we heat and cool them, our mobility and in our trading relationships with the rest of the world, are key determinants of successfully meeting the climate challenge. • It is possible to achieve a net-zero greenhouse gas emission in Europe by 2050, in time to meet global climate targets, but it requires unprecedented levels of innovations in technologies and in the adoption of sustainable lifestyles, diets and land use. • Avoiding confounding carbon leakage: the international trade balance (imports vs. exports) in the EU has and will continue to have a significant impact on internal EU and external (rest of the world) greenhouse gas emissions, materially affecting the EU’s timeline to achieving net zero and globally effective climate mitigation.• Policies that support the accelerated decoupling of economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions are needed along with incentives for the rest of the world to decarbonise if confounding leakage is to be avoided. • No single sector can, by itself, materially reduce or sequester greenhouse gases; however, actions affecting the carbon stocks on land and the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are urgently required. • Systemic changes at personal, local, national and regional levels are all important and publicly acceptable policies for transitioning to a net-zero emissions society are fundamental in order to meet the EU climate change targets. • Tools, such as th
Strapasson A, Woods J, Donaldson A, 2020, Bulb Calculator: An Independent Review, London, Publisher: Imperial College Consultants
Report commissioned by Bulb Energy Limited (UK). This report is the independent expert opinion of the authors.
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