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Energies 2017, 10(1), 29; doi:10.3390/en10010029

Bioenergy from Low-Intensity Agricultural Systems: An Energy Efficiency Analysis

1
Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Eberswalder Straße 84, 15374 Müncheberg, Germany
2
Potsdam University, Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 24-25, 14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany
3
Faculty of Landscape Management and Nature Conservation, University for Sustainable Development (HNEE), Schickler Strasse 5, 16225 Eberswalde, Germany
4
ITC, Faculty of Geoinformation and Earth Observation, University of Twente, Hengelosestraat 99, 7514 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Istudor Nicolae
Received: 28 October 2016 / Revised: 12 December 2016 / Accepted: 20 December 2016 / Published: 28 December 2016
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Abstract

In light of possible future restrictions on the use of fossil fuel, due to climate change obligations and continuous depletion of global fossil fuel reserves, the search for alternative renewable energy sources is expected to be an issue of great concern for policy stakeholders. This study assessed the feasibility of bioenergy production under relatively low-intensity conservative, eco-agricultural settings (as opposed to those produced under high-intensity, fossil fuel based industrialized agriculture). Estimates of the net energy gain (NEG) and the energy return on energy invested (EROEI) obtained from a life cycle inventory of the energy inputs and outputs involved reveal that the energy efficiency of bioenergy produced in low-intensity eco-agricultural systems could be as much as much as 448.5–488.3 GJ·ha−1 of NEG and an EROEI of 5.4–5.9 for maize ethanol production systems, and as much as 155.0–283.9 GJ·ha−1 of NEG and an EROEI of 14.7–22.4 for maize biogas production systems. This is substantially higher than for industrialized agriculture with a NEG of 2.8–52.5 GJ·ha−1 and an EROEI of 1.2–1.7 for maize ethanol production systems, as well as a NEG of 59.3–188.7 GJ·ha−1 and an EROEI of 2.2–10.2 for maize biogas production systems. Bioenergy produced in low-intensity eco-agricultural systems could therefore be an important source of energy with immense net benefits for local and regional end-users, provided a more efficient use of the co-products is ensured. View Full-Text
Keywords: bioenergy; biofuel; energy efficiency; NEG; EROEI; high-intensity industrialized agricultural production systems; low-intensity eco-agricultural production systems bioenergy; biofuel; energy efficiency; NEG; EROEI; high-intensity industrialized agricultural production systems; low-intensity eco-agricultural production systems
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Arodudu, O.; Helming, K.; Wiggering, H.; Voinov, A. Bioenergy from Low-Intensity Agricultural Systems: An Energy Efficiency Analysis. Energies 2017, 10, 29.

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