Environmental trade-offs associated with bioenergy from agri-residues in sub-tropical regions: A case study of the Colombian coffee sector

Samira Garcia Freites (University of Manchester), Patricia Thornley and Mirjam Röder (both from Aston University) have published the paper ‘Environmental trade-offs associated with bioenergy from agri-residues in sub-tropical regions: A case study of the Colombian coffee sector’. This paper is part of the Special Issues ‘Development of modern bioenergy approaches in low- and middle-income countries’ guest-edited by Mirjam Röder (Aston University), Alison Mohr (University of Nottingham) and Yan Liu (Michigan State University) of the journal Biomass and Bioenergy.

The paper explores the environmental trade-offs associated with deploying gasification of coffee stem bioenergy systems over current coffee residues and energy uses in rural areas in Colombia. The deployment of coffee stem gasification-CHP systems can result in net reductions of greenhouse gas emissions of up to 68%, and particulate matter formation up to 98%, when replacing coffee stem cookstoves and diesel electricity.

Despite the positive impact on emissions and particulate matter, replacing grid electricity could also result in negative impacts due to the low-carbon intensity of the grid electricity in Colombia, which is largely powered by hydroelectricity. Understanding the interface between environmental impact categories is essential, to maximise the benefits and minimise negative impacts of bioenergy and replacing current practices. It is also relevant to consider policy agendas on climate change, health and ecosystem services to steer decision making on sustainable bioenergy systems.

Samira Garcia Freites notes: “This paper derives from my PhD research, which evaluated the feasibility of bioenergy from agricultural residues, to support sustainable development in rural areas of Colombia. My research contributes to understanding how bioenergy from agricultural residues can tackle sustainability challenges in the Global South and support the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The paper is online via Elsevier and free to access until 27 August 2020.

If you have any questions about the paper or would like more information, please get in touch at supergen-bioenergy@aston.ac.uk.