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Water 2017, 9(12), 919; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9120919

Potential Impact on Freshwater Resources from Agrofuel Feedstock Cultivation in Thailand: Implications of the Alternative Energy Development Plan 2015

1
The Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment (JGSEE), King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), Bangkok 10140, Thailand
2
Center of Excellence on Energy Technology and Environment (CEE), Science and Technology Postgraduate Education and Research Development Office (PERDO), Bangkok 10140, Thailand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 October 2017 / Revised: 22 November 2017 / Accepted: 24 November 2017 / Published: 26 November 2017
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Abstract

The impact of water use in areas with abundant freshwater resources should not be the same as areas with limited resources. This impact is quantified as water scarcity footprint. The monthly water stress index with reference to environmental water requirement is proposed as a characterization factor. The biofuel policies of Thailand—cassava and sugarcane for bioethanol, and oil palm for biodiesel—were selected for the assessment based on land expansion and displacement scenarios. Cultivation was found to be the most water intensive phase in producing both biodiesel and bioethanol. Thus, the proposed index was applied for assessing and selecting areas having low values of the water scarcity footprint. The results showed low values for expanding oil palm plantations on abandoned land and displacing plantation areas with low yields of maize and pineapple with sugarcane and cassava. Additionally, shifting the crop calendar could be considered to reduce the stress situation such as the central region can avoid the water scarcity footprint by 38% from shifting sugarcane cultivation. Consequently mitigating this potential impact and threats to the ecosystem based on specific circumstances and context would be achieved through applying the proposed index in water resource and land suitability planning. View Full-Text
Keywords: water stress index; freshwater resources; agrofuel feedstock; cultivation; biofuels policy; Thailand water stress index; freshwater resources; agrofuel feedstock; cultivation; biofuels policy; Thailand
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Nilsalab, P.; Gheewala, S.H. Potential Impact on Freshwater Resources from Agrofuel Feedstock Cultivation in Thailand: Implications of the Alternative Energy Development Plan 2015. Water 2017, 9, 919.

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