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Bioenergy from
degraded land
Birka Wicke
South at the Steering Wheel - Improving
sustainability in land investment for bioenergy
in sub-Saharan Africa
SEI/SIANI Workshop, Stockholm, 29 May 2012
Background
• Growing concern about impacts of
bioenergy
• Many of these impacts are related to land
use change
Degraded and marginal land
Using degraded and marginal land may
reduce negative impacts because this land is
thought to be largely unsuitable and often
economically unattractive for agricultural
crop production
Opportunities
• Reduction & possibly reversal of soil
degradation processes
– Increased soil fertility
– Improved water infiltration and soil moisture
retention
• Rural socio-economic development
• Carbon sequestration
GHG Emissions
from Palm-Oil-
Based Electricity
vs.
Fossil Electricity
Wicke et al. 2008 Biomass and Bioenergy
Peatlandforest
Naturalrainforest
Coal
AverageDutch
Clauspowerplant
AverageEU
Logged-overforest
Modernnaturalgas
PFAD
Degradedland
Improvement
GHGemissions(gCO2
eq/kWh)
-1000
0
1000
2000
3000
4000
CPO electricity
Fossil electricity
PFAD electricity
Example: Carbon sequestration
Challenges
Examples of challenges
• Defining degraded land – theory vs. practice
• Degraded land is often an important
resource for poor rural communities
• Environmental risks
• Difficult growing conditions
Difficulties in defining degraded land
Degraded land is land that has
experienced the long‐term loss of
ecosystem function and services
caused by disturbances from which
the system cannot recover unaided
(UNEP, 2007).
Wicke et al. 2011
Energy and Environmental Science
Example: Salt-affected soils worldwide
• 1.1 Gha salt-affected land worldwide
• Land availability analysis
– forest, protected areas, wetlands,
unsuitable areas excluded - 14%
– Exclusion of agricultural land?
Example: Salt-affected soils worldwide
Wicke et al. 2011
Energy and Environmental Science
• Extensive land uses and ecosystem functions are
hard to accurately account for, e.g.
– Hunting and gathering
– Livestock grazing
– Cultural services
– Ecosystem functions
• Displacement of these uses and functions can lead
to negative social and environmental impacts
 Need to carefully assess existing uses before land
investments
Extensive use of degraded land
Environmental risks
• Invasiveness and weediness of stress-
tolerant species
• Exacerbation of water shortages in already
water-scarce regions
• Deterioration of salinity/sodicity
(hydrological discharge areas)
• Native species
• Species-specific management
• Site-specific management (type and
severity of degraded land)
But it all depends on the crop, setup
and management!
More difficult growing conditions
• Yields on degraded land are typically lower
than on other land
• However, reclamation activities and the
soil regeneration potential of trees may
improve yields over time.
More difficult growing conditions
• Establishment phase may require more
inputs & more work
Economics of degraded land < high quality
land
• Positive side effects are important
additional reasons for investigating and
investing in bioenergy from degraded land
Example: Salt-affected soils worldwide
Wicke et al. 2011
Energy and Environmental Science
 Regional contributions can be quite high
Example Africa: 8 EJ y-1 at
production costs of
2 € GJ-1 or less (incl. agri.
land)
~28% of the current total
primary energy consumption
Example: Salt-affected soils worldwide
Wicke et al. 2011
Energy and Environmental Science
Messages to take home
Degraded land has the potential to
operationalize sustainability
It has its own challenges that must be
tackled to ensure sustainable
production
Message 1:
Message 2:
Message 3:
Still there’s a good economic
potential for certain regions!
Conclusion
• Sustainability criteria & certification also on
degraded land
• Different types and severity levels of
degraded land require different setup and
management
 Capacity building is important component
for minimizing possible environmental risks
For more information
PhD thesis online at:
igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/dissertations/2011-0412-200703/wicke.pdf
Peer-reviewed
articles
Contact information:
Birka Wicke
b.wicke@uu.nl
Break-out group on degraded land!
Thank you for your attention!
Contact information:
Birka Wicke
b.wicke@uu.nl

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Bioenergy from degraded land

  • 1. Bioenergy from degraded land Birka Wicke South at the Steering Wheel - Improving sustainability in land investment for bioenergy in sub-Saharan Africa SEI/SIANI Workshop, Stockholm, 29 May 2012
  • 2. Background • Growing concern about impacts of bioenergy • Many of these impacts are related to land use change
  • 3. Degraded and marginal land Using degraded and marginal land may reduce negative impacts because this land is thought to be largely unsuitable and often economically unattractive for agricultural crop production
  • 4. Opportunities • Reduction & possibly reversal of soil degradation processes – Increased soil fertility – Improved water infiltration and soil moisture retention • Rural socio-economic development • Carbon sequestration
  • 5. GHG Emissions from Palm-Oil- Based Electricity vs. Fossil Electricity Wicke et al. 2008 Biomass and Bioenergy Peatlandforest Naturalrainforest Coal AverageDutch Clauspowerplant AverageEU Logged-overforest Modernnaturalgas PFAD Degradedland Improvement GHGemissions(gCO2 eq/kWh) -1000 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 CPO electricity Fossil electricity PFAD electricity Example: Carbon sequestration
  • 6. Challenges Examples of challenges • Defining degraded land – theory vs. practice • Degraded land is often an important resource for poor rural communities • Environmental risks • Difficult growing conditions
  • 7. Difficulties in defining degraded land Degraded land is land that has experienced the long‐term loss of ecosystem function and services caused by disturbances from which the system cannot recover unaided (UNEP, 2007).
  • 8. Wicke et al. 2011 Energy and Environmental Science Example: Salt-affected soils worldwide
  • 9. • 1.1 Gha salt-affected land worldwide • Land availability analysis – forest, protected areas, wetlands, unsuitable areas excluded - 14% – Exclusion of agricultural land? Example: Salt-affected soils worldwide Wicke et al. 2011 Energy and Environmental Science
  • 10. • Extensive land uses and ecosystem functions are hard to accurately account for, e.g. – Hunting and gathering – Livestock grazing – Cultural services – Ecosystem functions • Displacement of these uses and functions can lead to negative social and environmental impacts  Need to carefully assess existing uses before land investments Extensive use of degraded land
  • 11. Environmental risks • Invasiveness and weediness of stress- tolerant species • Exacerbation of water shortages in already water-scarce regions • Deterioration of salinity/sodicity (hydrological discharge areas)
  • 12. • Native species • Species-specific management • Site-specific management (type and severity of degraded land) But it all depends on the crop, setup and management!
  • 13. More difficult growing conditions • Yields on degraded land are typically lower than on other land • However, reclamation activities and the soil regeneration potential of trees may improve yields over time.
  • 14. More difficult growing conditions • Establishment phase may require more inputs & more work Economics of degraded land < high quality land • Positive side effects are important additional reasons for investigating and investing in bioenergy from degraded land
  • 15. Example: Salt-affected soils worldwide Wicke et al. 2011 Energy and Environmental Science
  • 16.  Regional contributions can be quite high Example Africa: 8 EJ y-1 at production costs of 2 € GJ-1 or less (incl. agri. land) ~28% of the current total primary energy consumption Example: Salt-affected soils worldwide Wicke et al. 2011 Energy and Environmental Science
  • 17. Messages to take home Degraded land has the potential to operationalize sustainability It has its own challenges that must be tackled to ensure sustainable production Message 1: Message 2: Message 3: Still there’s a good economic potential for certain regions!
  • 18. Conclusion • Sustainability criteria & certification also on degraded land • Different types and severity levels of degraded land require different setup and management  Capacity building is important component for minimizing possible environmental risks
  • 19. For more information PhD thesis online at: igitur-archive.library.uu.nl/dissertations/2011-0412-200703/wicke.pdf Peer-reviewed articles
  • 21. Thank you for your attention! Contact information: Birka Wicke b.wicke@uu.nl