Environmental Implications of Sugarcane Bioethanol

An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy assessed the net greenhouse gas savings of bioethanol from sugarcane as compared to the use of fossil fuels.

Researchers have long promoted biofuels produced from crop biomass as an environmentally sustainable source of renewable energy. A recent study questions whether the potential climate benefit of sugarcane ethanol is diminished when emissions from land use management are considered.

Scientists examined the sugarcane ethanol production systems to identify sources of greenhouse gas emissions. They found that land use change, fertilization, residue burning, and tillage had the largest impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Dr. Klaus Butterbach-Bahl, head of the Department of Atmosphere/Biosphere Interaction and Global Change at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, "It is also very likely that N2O emissions from sugarcane production systems have been seriously underestimated so far when using standard IPCC methodology. The diversity of sugarcane production systems and the remaining uncertainties with regard to the GHG balance of bioethanol from sugarcane clearly show that more measurements are needed for a full environmental assessment."

In order to maximize greenhouse gas savings, Dr. Cardoso Lisboa and coauthors suggest changes at all stages of the sugarcane production. For example, simultaneous provision of irrigation water and fertilizer would allow the reduction of fertilizer rates in sugarcane production systems. Furthermore, the conversion from pre-harvest burning to no- or minimum-tillage systems with mechanized harvest may better maintain or even increase soil C and N stocks.

Download Center

  • Monitoring and Reporting on Air Emissions for Regulators and the Real World

    When it comes to managing compliance and regulatory issues surrounding air emissions, there are no easy jobs. With interviews from practitioners from American Electric Power, Red Cedar Gathering, Trinity Consultants, and Cority, this eBook provides practical advice to advance your air emissions monitoring and reporting programs.

  • What Every EHS Professional Should Know About ESG

    Join experts from Arcadis and Cority on April 27th to learn the most common ESG reporting frameworks and how technology can help you improve reporting efficiency, identify areas for improvement, and create defensible audit trails.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Read the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get an unbiased comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • RFP Template for Waste Management Software

    Learn the essential questions to ask when evaluating waste management software solutions with this free, ready-to-use RFP template

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

Featured Webinar