This page gives some examples of projects carried out by LCAworks for clients since its formation and also of some key, relevant projects carried out by the founder members of LCAworks.
HGCA Greenhouse Gas Calculator (Dr Jeremy Woods, Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas 2006-2011):
Developed a web-based tool for the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) to allow detailed lifecycle assessment of UK produced biofuels. The calculator is designed to allow farmers and ethanol suppliers to test how changes made in management practices or inputs could affect the overall GHG balance of the resulting ethanol production. LCAworks is currently updating the calculator to take account of the results of a recent research project to assess the impacts of different end-uses of straw on the biofuel GHG balance, and for recent changes in the EU Renewable Energy Directive. As part of the original GHG Calculator project, Dr Jeremy Woods co-authored the HGCA study: “Understanding and managing uncertainties to improve biofuel GHG emissions calculations”: The report reviews the nature and extent of uncertainties surrounding GHG emissions for biofuel feedstock production.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) lifecycle analysis of commercial bio-ethanol production (Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas, Dr Jeremy Woods 2009-2011)
Client: Two UK based Bio-ethanol producers.
The Challenge: Assess the GHG balance of bio-ethanol produced from UK wheat, against a background of regulatory uncertainty.
Approach: LCAworks carried out a detailed evaluation of the likely outcomes of EU regulation uncertainty to identify the most likely impacts on biofuel LCA methodologies. The outcomes of the evaluation were then used as a basis for updating LCA methodology for wheat ethanol to create a set of scenarios for which the GHG balance was assessed. Detailed input data were obtained from the clients for feedstock, conversion and transport/storage segments of the biofuel value chain.
Results: The results show a range of possible GHG balances for the clients’ biofuels, depending upon different interpretations of the regulation and different choices of input data. The results have been used in both cases to inform technology and feedstock choices.
Sustainable drink bottles (Dr Richard Murphy, Miao Gao, 2009- 2011)
Client: Multinational drinks supplier
Challenge: To carry out a full lifecycle assessment (LCA) on a new bottle developed through an innovative process that converts sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into a key component for PET plastic.
Approach and results: Using ISO14000 series compliant LCA methods, LCAworks carried out an LCA which indicates that the new bottle with 30 percent plant-base material should reduce the related carbon footprint as compared to petroleum-based PET plastic bottles. Work is ongoing to evaluate a range of other environmental and sustainability impacts.
Complete life cycle assessment of bio-polyethylene (Dr Richard Murphy, Miao Gao, 2011 – 2012)
Client: Multinational chemicals company
Challenge: To carry out a full lifecycle assessment (LCA) on bio-polyethylene manufactured from sugar and mo molasses sourced from multiple world regions.
Approach and results: Using ISO14000 series compliant LCA methods, LCAworks is conducting a detailed LCA. The project is not yet complete and work is ongoing.
Review of European Commission Modelling of Biofuel Indirect Land Use Change (Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas, Dr Jeremy Woods 2010-2011)
Client: BP Biofuels.
The Challenge: The European Commission is facing a difficult challenge to implement policy dealing with the indirect impacts (on land use) of expanding biofuel use in Europe. In an attempt to better understand and quantify the challenge, the Commission commissioned a series of studies in 2010 to model the impacts using global and partial equilibrium models. Thought leaders are of differing opinions regarding the accuracy and relevance of the modelling.
Approach: LCAworks carried out a detailed comparison of the modelling methodologies and input data / assumptions and presented the findings in consistent units and frames of reference, facilitating clear comparison between the models and their inputs/assumptions.
Results: The results have been used widely, including by the Commission itself as an input to further analysis.
Application of “Causal-Descriptive” modelling techniques to assess indirect land use change impacts of European Rapeseed biodiesel production (Mark Akhurst, Nicole Kalas, Dr. Jeremy Woods, 2010-2011)
Client: A consortium of major European oilseed growers and biodiesel manufacturers.
The Challenge: Assess the GHG impacts of indirect land use change (ILUC) caused by expansion of oilseed rape biodiesel production.
Approach: Apply the “Causal-Descriptive” modeling approach developed by E4tech to oilseed rape biodiesel production in Europe. Create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet model which allows a series of scenarios to be evaluated and their ILUC impacts estimated, using a range of actual OSR production data.
Results: The results show that the ILUC impacts of European OSR biodiesel could lie within a broad range of values and are very sensitive to small changes in some key and often very uncertain inputs. The project helped to identify several key factors which demonstrate that ILUC impacts for European OSR biodiesel may be much lower than suggested by the results of earlier ILUC modeling.
Benchmarking of sustainability standards across Europe (Dr Rocio Diaz-Chavez, Dr Frank Rossilio-Calle 2010-2011)
Client: European Commission DG Energy (ENER/C1/495-2009)
Challenge: To compare and contrast national regulation related to biomass sustainability and to determine the impact of the regulation on biomass availability and cost, with a view to determining whether there are impacts on biomass trade within the EU and to and from the EU.
Approach: Working as part of a consortium (together with: VITO (main contractor); Copernicus Institute (Utrecht University); TU Vienna; Öko-Institut; ETA Florence; and REC), collect data on all national, regional/local biomass sustainability regulations, on the sustainable use of solid and gaseous biomass. Constructed a series of scenarios to model the impacts of the regulations on biomass production and use in the EU until 2020 (and beyond) - including an assessment of the impacts on international bioenergy trade, both within the EU and from/to the EU.
Evaluate the availability of sustainable biomass for use in UK power generation (Dr Jeremy Woods, Alexandre Strapasson)
Client: Drax Power Limited.
The Challenge: Assess the availability of potential biomass supply for power generation in the UK, taking account of sustainability constraints and growing demand from other sectors, including biofuels.
Approach: LCAworks has publishes a detailed report exploring the availability of sustainable biomass for use in UK power generation.
Results: The work, which was carried out in collaboration with Drax Power Limited, concludes that there is a significant biomass potential for electricity generation with the ultimate longer term goal for the UK being the development of biomass plant linked to CCS which would provide negative carbon emissions - the only technology to do so. It is likely that, without significant volume of biomass coupled to CCS, meeting the UK’s 80% greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target by 2050 will be almost impossible.
Leadership of Quatermass (Dr. Jeremy Woods, 2007 – 2010):
An EU FP7 funded programme to quantify the potential of terrestrial biomass to mitigate climate change. The project used scientific analyses of carbon uptake and release by forestry, biofuels and other land-use changes to investigate climate change mitigation options. It used innovative new approaches to land-use evaluation, and integrated forestry and agroeconomic modelling (of agricultural, forestry and bioenergy production with global trade) to create a scientific framework for policy. It analyzed the environmental and socio-economic impacts of mitigation options and trade-offs of ecosystem services by country and region. It was funded by the NERC under the Quantifying and Understanding Earth Systems programme (QUEST).
COMPETE: Competence Platform on Energy Crop and Agroforestry Systems for Arid and Semi-arid Ecosystems- Africa. (Dr. Rocio Diaz-Chavez and Dr. Jeremy Woods 2007-2009):
An EUFP7 funded project to research the use of renewable natural resources for bioenergy implementation in sub Saharan Africa. The work incorporated research on: current and potential land use and bioenergy crops; review and consultation on certification and standard systems related to biofuels; stakeholders mapping; and assessment of policies. This project also contributed to the review of some of the EIA procedures in different countries and the guidelines regarding the implementation of ESIAS particularly in Africa but also in Latin America and Asia.
CIFOR/EuropeAid, “Bioenergy, sustainability and trade-offs: Can we avoid deforestation while promoting bioenergy?” (Dr. Jeremy Woods, 2008-2011):
A EuropeAid funded project aiming to evaluate the impacts of expanded bioenergy on deforestation, with a special emphasis on the impacts from expanded biofuels imports into the EU. The analysis includes case studies in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania and Indonesia. One component looks specifically at the expected impacts from the EU Renewable Energy Directive. Dr Jeremy Woods.
Lead Authorship on SCOPE Study: “Biofuels: Environmental Consequences and Interactions with Changing Land Use” (Dr. Jeremy Woods 2008 – 2009):
The Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) of the International Council for Science (ICSU) established the International SCOPE Biofuels Project to provide a comprehensive and objective, science-based analysis of the effects of biofuels on the environment. Dr Jeremy Woods