Publication date: February 2019
Source: Renewable Energy, Volume 131
Author(s): Pierre Chopin, Loïc Guindé, François Causeret, Göran Bergkvist, Jean-Marc Blazy
Biomass is a potential source of renewable energy that can be produced in agricultural fields. However, its introduction at regional scale should not only provide energy, but also economic, social and environmental benefits. In order to study the potential benefit of introducing energy cane cropping systems for electricity production, we developed 62 scenarios for energy cane-based biomass power plants, for which impacts were modeled with a regional bioeconomic model. Impacts were calculated and aggregated with weights on 14 issues obtained from 51 stakeholders using an analytic hierarchy process. Regression models were applied to explain the determinant of sustainability. The results showed that stakeholder preferences for local development priorities fell into four different types, while the impacts of the scenarios also differed greatly according to their attributes. The main issues appeared to be “Disruption of existing agricultural sectors”, “Potential loss of biodiversity” and “Change in farmers’ revenue”. The factor “Output of power plant” was positively correlated with the level of contribution to local development and to “Quantity of bagasse” and “Sustainable management of energy cane”. Developing energy cane biomass appears therefore to be potentially beneficial for local development, with options favoring power plants relying on different forms of biomass produced in the vicinity and managed in a sustainable way. The novel approach devised here helped to address the complex multi-dimensional development issues regarding production of biomass and to provide satisfactory compromise solutions for different stakeholders. It can also provide guidance on exploration of options to obtain the most sustainable scenario.