Attributional life cycle assessment of biofuels for shipping: addressing alternative geographical locations and cultivation Systems
The purpose of this study is to evaluate a life cycle assessment of straight vegetable oil (SVO) and biodiesel addressing alternative upstream pathways. The pathways are SVO and biodiesel produced in the United Kingdom (UK) using European rapeseed and also, SVO and biodiesel produced in the UK using soybean grain and soybean oil imported from Argentina. Four environmental impact categories have been assessed using the SimaPro (ReCiPe life cycle impact assessment) method: this includes global warming potential (GWP); acidification; eutrophication and particulate matter. Rapeseed based biofuel had the lowest emission impact in terms of GHG emissions. Significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can result from land use change due to the expansion and cultivation of soybean in Argentina. When land use change is not considered, the soy based biofuel system has the lowest GHG impact with more than 70% GHG emission reduction. The GHG emission at cultivation stage far outweighs the impacts of the other life-cycle stages irrespective of the feedstock used for the biofuel production systems. The use of fertilizers and associated soil emissions are the main contributors. The environmental impacts of biofuel can be reduced by avoiding land use change, improving soil management practices and yield, and also optimizing transportation routes. Effective implementation of options for biofuels production were explored to improve sustainability in shipping.