Special Issue "Economic and Environmental Impact Assessment of Renewable Energy from Biomass"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Bacenetti Jacopo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Universita degli Studi di Milano, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, Milan, Italy
Interests: life cycle assessment, renewable energy, biomass, anaerobic digestion, environmental impact assessment, biogas
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

the interest in the use of biomass for renewable energy production is steadily increasing due to the environmental and energy independence concerns. Sustainability assessment of renewable energy technologies should certainly include analysis of environmental impact.

However, to encourage environmentally sustainable bioenergy strategies, the analytic evaluation of the economic and environmental performance of the different bioenergy solutions is needed.

We invite researchers to contribute with original research articles, as well as review articles, to this Special Issue. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the economic, energetic and environmental assessment of:

  1. Woody biomass,
  2. Herbaceous biomass,
  3. Agricultural by-products and waste valorisation,
  4. Anaerobic digestion of waste and agricultural feedstocks,
  5. Biogas and biomethane production and utilization,
  6. Renewable energies in agriculture,
  7. Biofuels,
  8. Biorefinery,
  9. Novel biobased products.

Dr. Bacenetti Jacopo
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Biomass
  • Renewable energy
  • Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Cost
  • Circular economy
  • Sustainability

Published Papers (10 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Open AccessArticle
Improving the Sustainability of Dairy Slurry by A Commercial Additive Treatment
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4998; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184998 - 12 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Ammonia (NH3), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from livestock farms contribute to negative environmental impacts such as acidification and climate change. A significant part of these emissions is produced from [...] Read more.
Ammonia (NH3), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from livestock farms contribute to negative environmental impacts such as acidification and climate change. A significant part of these emissions is produced from the decomposition of slurry in livestock facilities, during storage and treatment phases. This research aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of the additive “SOP LAGOON” (made of agricultural gypsum processed with proprietary technology) on (i) NH3 and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, (ii) slurry properties and N loss. Moreover, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method was applied to assess the potential environmental impact associated with stored slurry treated with the additive. Six barrels were filled with 65 L of cattle slurry, of which three were used as a control while the additive was used in the other three. The results indicated that the use of the additive led to a reduction of total nitrogen, nitrates, and GHG emissions. LCA confirmed the higher environmental sustainability of the scenario with the additive for some environmental impact categories among which climate change. In conclusion, the additive has beneficial effects on both emissions and the environment, and the nitrogen present in the treated slurry could partially displace a mineral fertilizer, which can be considered an environmental credit. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Does the Development of Bioenergy Exacerbate the Price Increase of Maize?
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4845; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184845 - 05 Sep 2019
Abstract
The relationship between oil prices and food prices is complex, and maize is the most prominent example. Whether the development of bioenergy will exacerbate the price increase of maize caused by the increasing price of oil is a topic that is attracting great [...] Read more.
The relationship between oil prices and food prices is complex, and maize is the most prominent example. Whether the development of bioenergy will exacerbate the price increase of maize caused by the increasing price of oil is a topic that is attracting great attention. This paper studies the relationship between oil prices and maize prices. First, the effects of the development of biomass energy on maize price in theory is analyzed by constructing a theoretical model that includes the effects of the cost channel and the demand channel, while setting the maize–oil price ratio as a trigger for the demand channel. Then, this paper empirically analyzes the price data. Both theoretical and empirical analyses show the effects of the demand channel in the long term; that is, the effect of the development of bioenergy on maize prices is weak, and maize prices did not increase sharply. The effect of the cost channel is the main cause of the increases in the price of maize and other foods. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Economic and Global Warming Potential Assessment of Flexible Power Generation with Biogas Plants
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2530; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092530 - 01 May 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Demand-oriented power generation by power plants is becoming increasingly important due to the rising share of intermittent power sources in the energy system. Biogas plants can contribute to electricity grid stability through flexible power generation. This work involved conducting an economic and global [...] Read more.
Demand-oriented power generation by power plants is becoming increasingly important due to the rising share of intermittent power sources in the energy system. Biogas plants can contribute to electricity grid stability through flexible power generation. This work involved conducting an economic and global warming potential (GWP) assessment of power generation with biogas plants that focused on the Austrian biogas sector. Twelve biogas plant configurations with electric rated outputs ranging from 150–750 kW and different input material compositions were investigated. The results from the economic assessment reveal that the required additional payment (premium) to make power generation economically viable ranges from 158.1–217.3 € MWh−1. Further, the GWP of biogas plant setups was analyzed using life cycle assessment. The results range from −0.42 to 0.06 t CO2 eq. MWh−1 and show that the 150 kW plant configurations yield the best outcome regarding GWP. Electricity from biogas in all scenarios outperformed the compared conventional electricity sources within the GWP. Greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation costs were calculated by relating the needed premium to the CO2 eq. saving potential and range from 149.5–674.1 € (t CO2 eq.)−1. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Density of Biogas Power Plants as An Indicator of Bioenergy Generated Transformation of Agricultural Landscapes
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2500; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092500 - 29 Apr 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The increasing use of biogas, produced from energy crops like silage maize, is supposed to noticeably change the structures and patterns of agricultural landscapes in Europe. The main objective of our study is to quantify this assumed impact of intensive biogas production with [...] Read more.
The increasing use of biogas, produced from energy crops like silage maize, is supposed to noticeably change the structures and patterns of agricultural landscapes in Europe. The main objective of our study is to quantify this assumed impact of intensive biogas production with the example of an agrarian landscape in Northern Germany. Therefore, we used three different datasets; Corine Land Cover (CLC), local agricultural statistics (Agrar-Struktur-Erhebung, ASE), and data on biogas power plants. Via kernel density analysis, we delineated impact zones which represent different levels of bioenergy-generated transformations of agrarian landscapes. We cross-checked the results by the analyses of the land cover and landscape pattern changes from 2000 to 2012 inside the impact zones. We found significant correlations between the installed electrical capacity (IC) and land cover changes. According to our findings, the landscape pattern of cropland—expressed via landscape metrics (mean patch size (MPS), total edge (TE), mean shape index (MSI), mean fractal dimension index (MFRACT)—increased and that of pastures decreased since the beginning of biogas production. Moreover, our study indicates that the increasing number of biogas power plants in certain areas is accompanied with a continuous reduction in crop diversity and a homogenization of land use in the same areas. We found maximum degrees of land use homogenisation in areas with highest IC. Our results show that a Kernel density map of the IC of biogas power plants might offer a suitable first indicator for monitoring and quantifying landscape change induced by biogas production. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Energy Consumption at Size Reduction of Lignocellulose Biomass for Bioenergy
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2477; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092477 - 27 Apr 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
In order to obtain bioenergy (biogas, biofuel) or pellets, different types of lignocellulosic biomass are subjected to a mechanical pretreatment, first by size reduction, then by separating, and ultimately by fracturing or bio-refining. Biomass processing mainly refers to a grinding process that occurs [...] Read more.
In order to obtain bioenergy (biogas, biofuel) or pellets, different types of lignocellulosic biomass are subjected to a mechanical pretreatment, first by size reduction, then by separating, and ultimately by fracturing or bio-refining. Biomass processing mainly refers to a grinding process that occurs until reaching certain limits. The size reduction process, such as grinding, is an operation that is executed with different levels of energy consumption, considering biomass mechanical characteristics and the necessary grinding level. This paper, illustrates a comparative analysis of experimental results obtained by grinding multiple types of vegetal biomass (Miscanthus, corn stalks, alfalfa, willow) used in the process of bio-refining and bio-fracturing. Experiments were realized using both a laboratory knife mill Grindomix GM200 (Retsch GmbH, Haan, Germany), and a 22 kW articulated hammer mill, using different grinding system speeds and different hammer mill sieves. Results have shown that biomass mechanical pre-processing grinding leads to supplementary costs in the overall process through bio-refining or bio-fracturing in order to obtain bio-products or bio-energy. So, specific energy consumption for grinding using a hammer mill can reach 50–65 kJ/kg for harvested Miscanthus biomass, and 35–50 kJ/kg for dried energetic willow, using a 10 mm orifice sieve, values which increase processing costs. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Digestate on the Static Strength of Spring Rapeseeds (Brassica napus var. arvensis)
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 2133; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11072133 - 10 Apr 2019
Abstract
Biogas production occurs during methane fermentation from organic substrates and the mass remaining after fermentation, containing organic matter and valuable minerals having regard to plant nutrition, forms the digestate, which could be useful for fertilizing purposes and very beneficial in the case of [...] Read more.
Biogas production occurs during methane fermentation from organic substrates and the mass remaining after fermentation, containing organic matter and valuable minerals having regard to plant nutrition, forms the digestate, which could be useful for fertilizing purposes and very beneficial in the case of the fertilization of rapeseeds. This paper focuses on the use of two forms of fertilization of rapeseeds—digestate and mineral fertilizers—in order to reduce the compressive strength of rapeseeds. The object presents results of compressive strength tests of three rape varieties (Bios, Feliks, Markus). The uniaxial compression tests between two parallel planes were made using a Zwick/Roell Z005 testing machine. Comparative analyses for the analyzed variables were carried out applying parametric and non-parametric statistical tests. On the basis of the conducted research, it was found that the distribution of the increase in the force crushing Bios and Feliks rapeseed varieties in both forms of cultivation was proportional to the increase in their mass. However, with a relatively comparable mass of Bios cv. seeds, in the case of the digestate use, a stronger correlation was found between the seed pressing force and its mass than for the multi-component fertilizer, understanding the need to apply more force to crush the seeds for this form of cultivation. In the conducted tests, the average size of rapeseed diameters of all varieties and forms of cultivation ranged from 1.81–1.95 mm, which indicates their good suitability for industrial purposes. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Foreign and Indigenous Innovations on the Energy Intensity of China’s Industries
Sustainability 2019, 11(4), 1107; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11041107 - 20 Feb 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
China’s industrial sectors have an approximate consumption amounting to 70% of the aggregate power of the entire country. Investigating the driving forces of the decline in the energy intensity is essential for accelerating China’s conversion into a low-carbon economy. Nowadays, there has been [...] Read more.
China’s industrial sectors have an approximate consumption amounting to 70% of the aggregate power of the entire country. Investigating the driving forces of the decline in the energy intensity is essential for accelerating China’s conversion into a low-carbon economy. Nowadays, there has been no agreement as yet when it comes to the impacts of China’s industrial sectors on energy intensity. The current research work studies the impacts of key driving forces, in particular foreign as well as indigenous innovations, on China’s industrial energy intensity in 34 industrial sectors between 2000 and 2010. Linear and nonlinear analysis methodologies are put to use. The linear empirical findings show that indigenous innovation primarily contributes to driving down the industrial energy intensity across the sampling duration. The foreign innovations, which take the shape of FDI as well as imports, are seen as benefiting the decline in industrial energy intensity; on the other hand, exports ramp up the industrial energy intensity. An additional investigation, on the basis of the panel threshold framework, indicates that the impact of foreign innovations by means of openness as well as industrial energy intensity has an association with the technological absorptive potential. The empirical evidence puts forward some pivotal inferences for policymakers with regard to China’s declining industrial energy intensity—for instance, exploitation of the maximum benefit associated with the technology spillovers; in addition, it is important to take into consideration the attributes and scenarios that impact industrial energy intensity. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Towards Sustainable Wood-Based Energy: Evaluation and Strategies for Mainstreaming Sustainability in the Sector
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 493; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020493 - 18 Jan 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Bioenergy, mostly from wood biomass, is now widely seen as an important element in the efforts to tame dangerous climate change. At the same time, foresters and development specialists note that wood-based energy production can contribute to rural development. However, to deliver on [...] Read more.
Bioenergy, mostly from wood biomass, is now widely seen as an important element in the efforts to tame dangerous climate change. At the same time, foresters and development specialists note that wood-based energy production can contribute to rural development. However, to deliver on these two goals without generating negative side effects, wood-based energy has to be sustainable, while currently, the sector is developing rapidly in ways that are technologically advanced, with questionable sustainability. How can sustainability be achieved in bioenergy production, to make it a viable element of climate change mitigation, adaptation, and rural development? Arguing for the need to mainstream sustainability thinking into wood-based energy production, the article draws on a critical literature review to identify four different levels of sustainability in the existing research on bioenergy from wood. It shows two possible strategies for integrating sustainability in wood bioenergy production. A top-down approach draws on global forestry governance instruments, while a bottom-up approach uses best-practices in forest plantations for bioenergy purposes, as illustrated by a case study from rural Paraguay. Using aggregated and visualized sustainability indicators, the article exemplifies what sustainable bioenergy production means in more tangible terms. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Open AccessArticle
Global Warming and Acidification Potential Assessment of a Collective Manure Management System for Bioenergy Production and Nitrogen Removal in Northern Italy
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3653; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103653 - 12 Oct 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Collective manure processing facilities to reduce nutrient loads and produce renewable energy are often proposed as feasible solutions in intensive livestock production areas. However, the transferring of effluents from farms to the treatment plant and back to farms, as well as the treatment [...] Read more.
Collective manure processing facilities to reduce nutrient loads and produce renewable energy are often proposed as feasible solutions in intensive livestock production areas. However, the transferring of effluents from farms to the treatment plant and back to farms, as well as the treatment operations themselves, must be carefully evaluated to assure the environmental sustainability of the solution. This study evaluated the global warming potential (GWP) and acidification potential (AP) of a collective treatment plant for bioenergy production and nitrogen removal as an alternative strategy to conventional on-farm manure management systems. Two manure management scenarios were compared: manure management on individual farms and management by a collective treatment plant. Data were collected at a collective processing plant and at the individual farms of the consortium to estimate emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, NOx, NH3 and SO2. The plant receives manure from 21 livestock production units, treating 660 tonnes day−1 of manure. The GWP and AP indicators were calculated to evaluate the potential impact of the two management solutions. The collective solution reduced both GWP (−52%) and AP (−43%) compared to manure management separately by each farm. Further improvement might be obtained in both indicators by introducing mitigation techniques in farm manure storage and manure application to soil. Full article
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

Open AccessArticle
Ex-Ante Analysis of Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts of Large-Scale Renewable and Nuclear Energy Targets for Global Electricity Generation by 2030
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2884; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082884 - 14 Aug 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
This study assesses the economic, social and environmental impacts of renewable and nuclear energy targets for global electricity generation by 2030. It examines different regions, as they might experience different impacts depending on the structures of their economies and their local natural resources, [...] Read more.
This study assesses the economic, social and environmental impacts of renewable and nuclear energy targets for global electricity generation by 2030. It examines different regions, as they might experience different impacts depending on the structures of their economies and their local natural resources, to understand the impact of these targets on their economics and well-being of their people. These regions are: Saudi Arabia, the United States (US), China, India, Europe and Rest of World (ROW). A well-known Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model, the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP), is modified and used to predict global economic shifts that would be triggered by two scenarios. The business as usual (BAU) scenario assumes that the current electricity mix remains unchanged until 2030. The Renewable and Nuclear Energy (RNE) scenario is based on the International Energy Outlook (IEO) 2016 prediction. The analysis shows that the GDP value of all regions, except India, is affected negatively. The study shows a loss of 4.45 million jobs worldwide in the RNE compared to the BAU. Finally, the implementation of planned renewable and nuclear energy slightly benefits the environment but not enough to mitigate rise in global temperature. Full article
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop