Energy Crop-Based Biogas as Vehicle Fuel: The Impact of Crop Selection on Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Performance
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The production of biogas from six agricultural crops was analysed regarding energy efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) performance for vehicle fuel from a field-to-tank perspective, with focus on critical parameters and on calculation methods. The energy efficiency varied from 35% to 44%, expressed as primary energy input per energy unit vehicle gas produced. The GHG reduction varied from 70% to 120%, compared with fossil liquid fuels, when the GHG credit of the digestate produced was included through system expansion according to the calculation methodology in the ISO 14044 standard of life cycle assessment. Ley crop-based biogas systems led to the highest GHG reduction, due to the significant soil carbon accumulation, followed by maize, wheat, hemp, triticale and sugar beet. Critical parameters are biogenic nitrous oxide emissions from crop cultivation, for which specific emission factors for digestate are missing today, and methane leakage from biogas production. The GHG benefits were reduced and the interrelation between the crops changed, when the GHG calculations were instead based on the methodology stated in the EU Renewable Energy Directive, where crop contribution to soil carbon accumulation is disregarded. All systems could still reach a 60% GHG reduction, due to the improved agricultural management when digestate replaces mineral fertilisers.