LCA impacts sorely lacking in biofuels policy

The Government must demonstrate a greater understanding of life cycle assessment (LCA) impacts if policy drivers are to be effective in developing the biofuels market, a leading research body has said.

The National Centre for Renewable Materials & Technologies (NNFCC) argues that there is “an urgent need” for wider understanding of LCA methodologies and how they differ as businesses are increasingly relying on such data to drive product development and manufacturing.

“LCA’s are growing in importance both in terms of helping businesses deliver more efficient products and for policy makers looking to account for greenhouse gas emissions and energy balances,” said NNFCC’s head of bio-refining, Dr Adrian Higson.

However he warned that more education and training was required to equip business leaders and policy makers with the levels of knowledge needed to make informed decisions around LCA.

According to NNFCC, the way energy balances and greenhouse gas emissions from bio-renewables, like biofuels and bio-based chemicals, are measured can be complex and require careful interpretation.

The research institution has released a report to help address this by demonstrating the policy implications of allocation procedure on multiple bio-based products within an LCA system using illustrative case studies.

According to the study, environmental performance of bio-renewables should be assessed on a case by case basis and the findings communicated to a wider audience so that any discrepancy in results is clearly understood.

Maxine Perella

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