Are the planning targets of liquid biofuel development achievable in China under climate change?

Dan Yan, Litao Liu*, Jinkai Li, Jiaqian Wu, Wei Qin, Saskia E. Werners

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Liquid biofuels from non-grain energy crops on marginal land could become an important substitute of gasoline in the transport sector, and offer the possibility to reduce competition with food crops for land resources. However, the cultivation of energy crops is facing profound challenges due to changing temperature and precipitation in the future. To assess the impact of climate change on the potential of liquid biofuels on marginal land in China, this study used a geographic information system-based approach combined with multiple factor analysis to identify the spatial distribution of marginal land suitable for nine major energy crops in China. Climate scenarios were generated based on bias-corrected results of five different climate models under two representative concentration pathways (RCP2.6 and 8.5). Results show that climate change is projected to have a substantial impact on the land availability for biofuel production in the 2050s under both RCPs. The total amount of marginal land suitable for energy crops was 170.2 million hectares for the period of 2010–2019, and would increase in the 2050s under both RCPs. The changing pattern of area are similar under both RCP 2.6 and 8.5, only the magnitude is different. All the species are projected to have a northward spread in China. The amount of marginal land suitable for all the energy crops is projected to increase in the 2050s, except for Miscanthus floridulus, and Miscanthus lutarioriparius under RCP 8.5. However, the potential productivity of the energy crops is projected to have a substantial decrease in the 2050s. The average yields of the energy crops are only about one fourth of their yields in the 2010s due to climate change. Combined with high costs of producing biofuels and numerous ecological tradeoffs, it is likely that liquid biofuels development using 1.5 and 2-generation energy crops does not have an optimistic perspective in China.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102963
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume186
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Liquid biofuels
  • Marginal land
  • Non-grain energy crops

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