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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 Hits1300Downloads472 Comment 0

2. chinaXiv:201605.00530 [pdf]

Initial soil C and land‐use history determine soil C sequestration under perennial bioenergy crops

Rebecca L. Rowe; Aidan M. Keith; Dafydd Elias; Marta Dondini; Pete Smith; Jonathan Oxley; Niall P. McNamara
Subjects: Biology >> Botany >> Plant ecology, plant geography

In the UK and other temperate regions, short rotation coppice (SRC) and Miscanthus x giganteus (Miscanthus) are two of the leading ‘second-generation’ bioenergy crops. Grown specifically as a low-carbon (C) fossil fuel replacement, calculations of the climate mitigation provided by these bioenergy crops rely on accurate data. There are concerns that uncertainty about impacts on soil C stocks of transitions from current agricultural land use to these bioenergy crops could lead to either an under- or overestimate of their climate mitigation potential. Here, for locations across mainland Great Britain (GB), a paired-site approach and a combination of 30-cm- and 1-m-deep soil sampling were used to quantify impacts of bioenergy land-use transitions on soil C stocks in 41 commercial land-use transitions; 12 arable to SRC, 9 grasslands to SRC, 11 arable to Miscanthus and 9 grasslands to Miscanthus. Mean soil C stocks were lower under both bioenergy crops than under the grassland controls but only significant at 0–30 cm. Mean soil C stocks at 0–30 cm were 33.55 ± 7.52 Mg C ha−1 and 26.83 ± 8.08 Mg C ha−1 lower under SRC (P = 0.004) and Miscanthus plantations (P = 0.001), respectively. Differences between bioenergy crops and arable controls were not significant in either the 30-cm or 1-m soil cores and smaller than for transitions from grassland. No correlation was detected between change in soil C stock and bioenergy crop age (time since establishment) or soil texture. Change in soil C stock was, however, negatively correlated with the soil C stock in the original land use. We suggest, therefore, that selection of sites for bioenergy crop establishment with lower soil C stocks, most often under arable land use, is the most likely to result in increased soil C stocks.

submitted time 2016-05-04 Hits317Downloads201 Comment 0

3. 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 Hits341Downloads213 Comment 0

4. 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 Hits383Downloads246 Comment 0

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