Life Cycle Emissions



The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have produced a scientific tool which is able to calculate the lifecycle emissions of biomass.


Life cycle emissions can be sensitive to range of factors, in particular the counterfactual land use can have a large effect. Counterfactual land use is a term for describing the previous land use.


The graph displays willow replacing multiple counterfactual land uses, with varying lifecycle emissions.  The highest emissions are produced when willows replaces unmanaged forestry, LRF broadleaf and LRF conifer plantations.  The reason for this is that all of these plantations will contain a high carbon stock within the plantations.  When these plantations are removed, their capacity to store the carbon is removed, resulting in more carbon being emitted and contributing towards the lifecycle emissions.


Replacing willow on cropland and pasture significantly reduces the lifecycle emissions, as the carbon stock is very low on these particular land uses.  When willow is planted on these land types, there is a minimal net increase in lifecycle emissions.


Counterfactual land use is one parameter which was used.  Other parameters could also be analysed to determine their sensitivity on the lifecycle emissions within the BEAC tool.