Bio-energies impact on Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services: Compared to other energy technologies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Bioenergy is one energy technology that is being used to decarbonize
energy provision in order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
However all energy value chains use natural capital (NC) other than the
atmosphere and impact ecosystem services (ES) other than climate
regulation in different ways. In this chapter the consumption of all natural
capital categories by various energy systems is discussed along with their
impact on the ecosystem services provision. Metrics that can be used to
quantify the positive and negative contribution of energy systems to each
ecosystem service are investigated and methods of comparing the overall
impact of each energy system proposed. These impacts and comparison
metrics are discussed using the example of coal and biomass fired thermal
electricity generation. Coal is very detrimental to ES unless the GHG can be
stored by carbon capture and storage (CCS) and clean coal technology
used. Biomass firing on the other hand can have a positive impact on ES as
long as the feedstock is grown on land that does not compete with other
land use vital to ES. However, the total contribution that bioenergy can
make to a low carbon economy is constrained by the land available.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBioenergy and Land Use Change
EditorsZhangcai Qin, Umakant Mishra , Astley Hastings
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781119297376
ISBN (Print)978-1-119-29734-5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

Publication series

NameGeophysical Monograph Series
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
ISSN (Print)0065-8448

Bibliographical note

This work forms part of the ADVENT project funded by the UK Natural Environment
Research Council (NERC).
Book series, all AGU publications are made open online 24 months after publication.


  • bioenergy
  • natural capital
  • ecosystem services
  • life cycle assessment
  • metrics


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