Bioenergy Life Cycle Analysis

Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) is one of the most promising approaches for evaluating the sustainability of biofuels and for comparing bioenergy systems. Life Cycle Analysis 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. Life Cycle Analysis 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 Life Cycle Analyses 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 Life Cycle Analysis. Life Cycle Analysis studies support a more sustainable approach to the production of renewable gas and assists in Ireland’s compliance of set EU targets.

Core Research Areas Include

Ongoing work focusses on :

  • Full Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) with energy and cost balance of integrated marine algae and salmon farming systems for biomethane production in Ireland
  • Life Cycle Analysis 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
  • Life Cycle Analysis 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 Life Cycle Analysis of biomethane production via a nationwide system of gasification and methanation
  • Uncertainty analysis of biomethane production in Ireland for robust system design
  • Life Cycle Analysis of the use of digestate not suitable for landspreading as a gasification-methanation feedstock

Ongoing Projects

Former Projects