Main content area

Comparative analyses of different biogenic CO2 emission accounting systems in life cycle assessment

Liu, Weiguo, Zhu, Qiuan, Zhou, Xiaolu, Peng, Changhui
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.652 pp. 1456-1462
Caragana, bioenergy, biomass production, carbon, carbon dioxide, case studies, climate change, fossil fuels, global warming potential, greenhouse gas emissions, life cycle assessment, models, China
The biomass-derived CO2 emission is usually treated as neutral to climate change. However, due to the stay of biomass-derived CO2 in the atmosphere, many researchers believe that biomass-derived CO2 also has climate change benefit. Therefore, many methods to account the global warming potential of biomass-derived CO2 (GWPbio) were proposed. Based on those new methods, we developed an accounting system for climate change impact of biomass utilization in this study, and compared it with the conventional accounting system which follows the carbon neutral assumption. A case study of caragana-to-pellet bioenergy production system was simulated to test the performance of the GWPbio accounting system. The CENTURY model was used to simulate carbon dynamics of caragana plantation in the Loess Plateau in China, and life cycle assessment (LCA) model was developed to estimate the life cycle emissions of the caragana-to-pellet system. Attributed to short rotation of caragana plantation and fast biomass accumulation after harvest, the GWPbio values around 0.044 were obtained. When the GWPbio was applied to LCA, significant high life cycle CO2 emission was found in comparison to the conventional method. However, the GWPbio accounting system has lower positive climate change impact than the conventional accounting system in assessing the overall impact of biomass utilization. This indicated that the application of GWPbio accounting system would encourage the utilization of biomass and allow a fair comparison with fossil fuels. In the sensitivity analysis, we found the accounting system was sensitive to biomass accumulation and all the corresponding factor affecting biomass accumulation.