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Biomass Bioenergy. 2011 Dec;35(12):4753-4769.

Global bioenergy potentials from agricultural land in 2050: Sensitivity to climate change, diets and yields.

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Institute of Social Ecology, Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt - Wien - Graz, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070 Vienna, Austria.


There is a growing recognition that the interrelations between agriculture, food, bioenergy, and climate change have to be better understood in order to derive more realistic estimates of future bioenergy potentials. This article estimates global bioenergy potentials in the year 2050, following a "food first" approach. It presents integrated food, livestock, agriculture, and bioenergy scenarios for the year 2050 based on a consistent representation of FAO projections of future agricultural development in a global biomass balance model. The model discerns 11 regions, 10 crop aggregates, 2 livestock aggregates, and 10 food aggregates. It incorporates detailed accounts of land use, global net primary production (NPP) and its human appropriation as well as socioeconomic biomass flow balances for the year 2000 that are modified according to a set of scenario assumptions to derive the biomass potential for 2050. We calculate the amount of biomass required to feed humans and livestock, considering losses between biomass supply and provision of final products. Based on this biomass balance as well as on global land-use data, we evaluate the potential to grow bioenergy crops and estimate the residue potentials from cropland (forestry is outside the scope of this study). We assess the sensitivity of the biomass potential to assumptions on diets, agricultural yields, cropland expansion and climate change. We use the dynamic global vegetation model LPJmL to evaluate possible impacts of changes in temperature, precipitation, and elevated CO(2) on agricultural yields. We find that the gross (primary) bioenergy potential ranges from 64 to 161 EJ y(-1), depending on climate impact, yields and diet, while the dependency on cropland expansion is weak. We conclude that food requirements for a growing world population, in particular feed required for livestock, strongly influence bioenergy potentials, and that integrated approaches are needed to optimize food and bioenergy supply.

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