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Introduction From seed and soil to end use


Fossil and other energy sources


Agro-chemicals production (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.)


Agro-chemicals transport


CO2 sequestration in crops and soil Water (irrigation)


More efficient and cleaner farming


Better soil management


Converting land for biofuel crops implantation


Harvesting


Energy crop


Harvest cultivation


transport to processing plant


Biofuel processing


Biofuel transport


Animal feed, glycerine, ...


Inputs Production process


Co-production Positive effects on agriculture and soil


Negative externalities on the environment Social effects


Electricity


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.


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