Agro-chemicals production (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.)
CO2 sequestration in crops and soil Water (irrigation)
More efficient and cleaner farming
Better soil management
Converting land for biofuel crops implantation
transport to processing plant
Animal feed, glycerine, ...
Inputs Production process
Co-production Positive effects on agriculture and soil
Negative externalities on the environment Social effects
Blending at bulk terminal
End use Biofuels Vital Graphics aims to highlight
opportunities offered by a developing biofuels sector, and the need for safeguards. Long-term and comprehensive planning can address different environmental and social concerns both as a means to achieve sustainability, and as a pre-condition for the successful development of the biofuels sector.
the opportunities offered by a developing biofuels sector...
Deforestation Biodiversity loss
Soil erosion Evapotranspiration
Improved access to basic services and livelihoods
Average wages 6 Eutrophication
Groundwater depletion Soil acidification
Human and ecological toxicity
Food source and water competition Exclusion of small producers
from access to land Figure 1.1 From seed and soil to end use Greenhouse gas emissions
Note: the diagram shows a generalized process for first generation biofuel production. Direct and indirect effects might only occurr in some regions, for some crops.
Source: Wang et al., Life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emission impacts of different corn ethanol plant types, 2007; Menichetti, M., Otto, M., Energy Balance & Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Biofuels from a Life Cycle Perspective, 2009; Greenpeace press review.
As with every other energy source, biofuels entail some risks and should be assessed over their entire lifecycle. For example the graphic, From seed and soil to end use, tracks the lifecycle of liquid biofuels for use in the transport sector – most of the available analysis has focused on this part of the sector, but it is increasingly recognised that biofuels are more than just transport fuels – from the moment land is converted for the purpose of growing biofuel crops, to the end use of the biofuel product in a vehicle. The graphic shows how various inputs to the production process create outputs with environmental and social impacts. Environmental and social issues related to the use of crops grown as biofuel feedstocks are similar to such issues raised in the agricultural sector as a whole, and are applicable to crops used for biomaterials, bioplastics and other products, too.