Assessing the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of biorefineries

Laura Sokka, Sampo Soimakallio

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientific

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    During the next decades there will be a growing demand for new land for food production due to population and economic growth. Simultaneously, global warming has been recognised as one of the most severe environmental problems of our time, and industrialised countries are negotiating on considerable emission cuts for the next decades. Biorefineries are considered by many as one solution for mitigation of climate change and improvement of the future security of food, chemical, forest and energy industries. Since increased use of biomass in biorefineries also implies increased use of land and auxiliary inputs, many have proposed to use by-products of food and forest industries in biorefineries. When assessing the global warming impacts of biorefineries, the setting of the spatial system boundary to include or exclude indirect impacts may significantly affect the results. In this paper, we discuss the life cycle greenhouse gas impacts of a hypothetical forest-based biorefinery by using two different approaches - attributional and consequential life cycle assessment (LCA) - to set the system boundary. The results imply that for those bio-based side-streams for which there presently exists use, the environmental benefits of diverting them to new uses as bio-fuel or bio-material are not straightforward and should be carefully and comprehensively studied before making decisions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLife cycle assessment of products and technologies
    Subtitle of host publicationLCA Symposium
    Place of PublicationEspoo
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    ISBN (Electronic)978-951-38-7586-2
    ISBN (Print)978-951-38-7585-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible
    EventSymposium on Life Cycle Assessment of Products and Technologies, LCA - Espoo, Finland
    Duration: 6 Oct 20096 Oct 2009

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Symposium


    ConferenceSymposium on Life Cycle Assessment of Products and Technologies, LCA


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