Bioenergy Life Cycle Analysis

Core Research Areas Include

Ongoing work focusses on :

  • Full LCA with energy and cost balance of integrated marine algae and salmon farming systems for biomethane production in Ireland
  • LCA of an onsite farm anaerobic digestion (AD) system
  • Cost analysis of landfill gas upgrading to natural gas standard
  • GHG land use change emissions from bioenergy in Ireland and its impact on GHG emissions reduction targets
  • LCA and cost analysis comparing biomethane produced in the state of the art AD plants in three locations: Ireland, Germany and Poland
  • Sustainability assessment of large scale energy storage
  • Full LCA of biomethane production via a nationwide system of gasification and methanation
  • Uncertainty analysis of biomethane production in Ireland for robust system design
  • LCA of the use of digestate not suitable for landspreading as a gasification-methanation feedstock


Life cycle assessment (LCA) is one of the most promising approaches for evaluating the sustainability of biofuels and for comparing bioenergy systems. LCA is a multistage approach, which covers the full life cycle of a product. In the case of a grass biomethane system for example, the life cycle encompasses: production and transport of grass silage (sowing, fertilizing, harvesting, ensiling); production of biogas at the anaerobic digestion facility; cleaning and upgrading of biogas to biomethane; compression and gas grid injection; and use as a fuel. LCA can also be used, for example, to help size and locate networks of distributed pretreatment sites for lignocellulosic bioresources, as well as centralised gasification-methanation-gas injection sites. The majority of bioenergy LCAs focus on life cycle calculation of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. Although the use of bioenergy may decrease GHG emissions, other detrimental environmental impacts, such as acidification, eutrophication, or land use change, may increase and are taken into account in the LCA. LCA studies support a more sustainable approach to the production of renewable gas and assists in Ireland’s compliance of set EU targets.