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1. chinaXiv:201605.00544 [pdf]

Global change synergies and trade‐offs between renewable energy and biodiversity

Andrea Santangeli; Tuuli Toivonen; Federico Montesino Pouzols; Mark Pogson; Astley Hastings; Pete Smith; Atte Moilanen
Subjects: Biology >> Botany >> Plant ecology, plant geography

Reliance on fossil fuels is causing unprecedented climate change and is accelerating environmental degradation and global biodiversity loss. Together, climate change and biodiversity loss, if not averted urgently, may inflict severe damage on ecosystem processes, functions and services that support the welfare of modern societies. Increasing renewable energy deployment and expanding the current protected area network represent key solutions to these challenges, but conflicts may arise over the use of limited land for energy production as opposed to biodiversity conservation. Here, we compare recently identified core areas for the expansion of the global protected area network with the renewable energy potential available from land-based solar photovoltaic, wind energy and bioenergy (in the form of Miscanthus × giganteus). We show that these energy sources have very different biodiversity impacts and net energy contributions. The extent of risks and opportunities deriving from renewable energy development is highly dependent on the type of renewable source harvested, the restrictions imposed on energy harvest and the region considered, with Central America appearing at particularly high potential risk from renewable energy expansion. Without restrictions on power generation due to factors such as production and transport costs, we show that bioenergy production is a major potential threat to biodiversity, while the potential impact of wind and solar appears smaller than that of bioenergy. However, these differences become reduced when energy potential is restricted by external factors including local energy demand. Overall, we found that areas of opportunity for developing solar and wind energy with little harm to biodiversity could exist in several regions of the world, with the magnitude of potential impact being particularly dependent on restrictions imposed by local energy demand. The evidence provided here helps guide sustainable development of renewable energy and contributes to the targeting of global efforts in climate mitigation and biodiversity conservation.

submitted time 2016-05-04 Hits1595Downloads492 Comment 0

2. chinaXiv:201605.00540 [pdf]

Evaluation of the ECOSSE model for simulating soil organic carbon under Miscanthus and short rotation coppice‐willow crops in Britain

Marta Dondini; Mark Richards; Mark Pogson; Edward O. Jones; Rebecca L. Rowe; Aidan M. Keith; Niall P. McNamara; Joanne U. Smith; Pete Smith
Subjects: Biology >> Botany >> Plant ecology, plant geography

In this paper, we focus on the impact on soil organic carbon (SOC) of two dedicated energy crops: perennial grass Miscanthus x Giganteus (Miscanthus) and short rotation coppice (SRC)-willow. The amount of SOC sequestered in the soil is a function of site-specific factors including soil texture, management practices, initial SOC levels and climate; for these reasons, both losses and gains in SOC were observed in previous Miscanthus and SRC-willow studies. The ECOSSE model was developed to simulate soil C dynamics and greenhouse gas emissions in mineral and organic soils. The performance of ECOSSE has already been tested at site level to simulate the impacts of land-use change to short rotation forestry (SRF) on SOC. However, it has not been extensively evaluated under other bioenergy plantations, such as Miscanthus and SRC-willow. Twenty-nine locations in the United Kingdom, comprising 19 paired transitions to SRC-willow and 20 paired transitions to Miscanthus, were selected to evaluate the performance of ECOSSE in predicting SOC and SOC change from conventional systems (arable and grassland) to these selected bioenergy crops. The results of the present work revealed a strong correlation between modelled and measured SOC and SOC change after transition to Miscanthus and SRC-willow plantations, at two soil depths (0–30 and 0–100 cm), as well as the absence of significant bias in the model. Moreover, model error was within (i.e. not significantly larger than) the measurement error. The high degrees of association and coincidence with measured SOC under Miscanthus and SRC-willow plantations in the United Kingdom, provide confidence in using this process-based model for quantitatively predicting the impacts of future land use on SOC, at site level as well as at national level.

submitted time 2016-05-04 Hits2771Downloads287 Comment 0

3. chinaXiv:201605.00538 [pdf]

Simulation of greenhouse gases following land‐use change to bioenergy crops using the ECOSSE model: a comparison between site measurements and model predictions

Marta Dondini; Mark I. A. Richards; Mark Pogson; Jon McCalmont; Julia Drewer; Rachel Marshall; Ross Morrison; Sirwan Yamulki; Zoe M. Harris; Giorgio Alberti; Lukas Siebicke; Gail Taylor; Mike Perks; Jon Finch; Niall P. McNamara; Joanne U. Smith; Pete Smith
Subjects: Biology >> Botany >> Plant ecology, plant geography

This article evaluates the suitability of the ECOSSE model to estimate soil greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes from short rotation coppice willow (SRC-Willow), short rotation forestry (SRF-Scots Pine) and Miscanthus after land-use change from conventional systems (grassland and arable). We simulate heterotrophic respiration (Rh), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) fluxes at four paired sites in the UK and compare them to estimates of Rh derived from the ecosystem respiration estimated from eddy covariance (EC) and Rh estimated from chamber (IRGA) measurements, as well as direct measurements of N2O and CH4 fluxes. Significant association between modelled and EC-derived Rh was found under Miscanthus, with correlation coefficient (r) ranging between 0.54 and 0.70. Association between IRGA-derived Rh and modelled outputs was statistically significant at the Aberystwyth site (= 0.64), but not significant at the Lincolnshire site (= 0.29). At all SRC-Willow sites, significant association was found between modelled and measurement-derived Rh (0.44 ≤  0.77); significant error was found only for the EC-derived Rh at the Lincolnshire site. Significant association and no significant error were also found for SRF-Scots Pine and perennial grass. For the arable fields, the modelled CO2 correlated well just with the IRGA-derived Rh at one site (= 0.75). No bias in the model was found at any site, regardless of the measurement type used for the model evaluation. Across all land uses, fluxes of CH4 and N2O were shown to represent a small proportion of the total GHG balance; these fluxes have been modelled adequately on a monthly time-step. This study provides confidence in using ECOSSE for predicting the impacts of future land use on GHG balance, at site level as well as at national level.

submitted time 2016-05-04 Hits384Downloads217 Comment 0

4. chinaXiv:201605.00511 [pdf]

Synergies and trade‐offs between renewable energy expansion and biodiversity conservation – a cross‐national multifactor analysis

Andrea Santangeli; Enrico Di Minin; Tuuli Toivonen; Mark Pogson; Astley Hastings; Pete Smith; Atte Moilanen
Subjects: Biology >> Botany >> Plant ecology, plant geography

Increased deployment of renewable energy can contribute towards mitigating climate change and improving air quality, wealth and development. However, renewable energy technologies are not free of environmental impacts; thus, it is important to identify opportunities and potential threats from the expansion of renewable energy deployment. Currently, there is no cross-national comprehensive analysis linking renewable energy potential simultaneously to socio-economic and political factors and biodiversity priority locations. Here, we quantify the relationship between the fraction of land-based renewable energy (including solar photovoltaic, wind and bioenergy) potential available outside the top biodiversity areas (i.e. outside the highest ranked 30% priority areas for biodiversity conservation) within each country, with selected socio-economic and geopolitical factors as well as biodiversity assets. We do so for two scenarios that identify priority areas for biodiversity conservation alternatively in a globally coordinated manner vs. separately for individual countries. We show that very different opportunities and challenges emerge if the priority areas for biodiversity protection are identified globally or designated nationally. In the former scenario, potential for solar, wind and bioenergy outside the top biodiversity areas is highest in developing countries, in sparsely populated countries and in countries of low biodiversity potential but with high air pollution mortality. Conversely, when priority areas for biodiversity protection are designated nationally, renewable energy potential outside the top biodiversity areas is highest in countries with good governance but also in countries with high biodiversity potential and population density. Overall, these results identify both clear opportunities but also risks that should be considered carefully when making decisions about renewable energy policies.

submitted time 2016-05-04 Hits373Downloads234 Comment 0

5. chinaXiv:201605.00502 [pdf]

High‐resolution spatial modelling of greenhouse gas emissions from land‐use change to energy crops in the United Kingdom

Mark Richards; Mark Pogson; Marta Dondini; Edward O. Jones; Astley Hastings; Dagmar N. Henner; Matthew J. Tallis; Eric Casella; Robert W. Matthews; Paul A. Henshall; Suzanne Milner; Gail Taylor; Niall P. McNamara; Jo U. Smith; Pete Smith
Subjects: Biology >> Botany >> Plant ecology, plant geography

We implemented a spatial application of a previously evaluated model of soil GHG emissions, ECOSSE, in the United Kingdom to examine the impacts to 2050 of land-use transitions from existing land use, rotational cropland, permanent grassland or woodland, to six bioenergy crops; three ‘first-generation’ energy crops: oilseed rape, wheat and sugar beet, and three ‘second-generation’ energy crops: Miscanthus, short rotation coppice willow (SRC) and short rotation forestry poplar (SRF). Conversion of rotational crops to Miscanthus, SRC and SRF and conversion of permanent grass to SRF show beneficial changes in soil GHG balance over a significant area. Conversion of permanent grass to Miscanthus, permanent grass to SRF and forest to SRF shows detrimental changes in soil GHG balance over a significant area. Conversion of permanent grass to wheat, oilseed rape, sugar beet and SRC and all conversions from forest show large detrimental changes in soil GHG balance over most of the United Kingdom, largely due to moving from uncultivated soil to regular cultivation. Differences in net GHG emissions between climate scenarios to 2050 were not significant. Overall, SRF offers the greatest beneficial impact on soil GHG balance. These results provide one criterion for selection of bioenergy crops and do not consider GHG emission increases/decreases resulting from displaced food production, bio-physical factors (e.g. the energy density of the crop) and socio-economic factors (e.g. expenditure on harvesting equipment). Given that the soil GHG balance is dominated by change in soil organic carbon (SOC) with the difference among Miscanthus, SRC and SRF largely determined by yield, a target for management of perennial energy crops is to achieve the best possible yield using the most appropriate energy crop and cultivar for the local situation.

submitted time 2016-05-04 Hits411Downloads263 Comment 0

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