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Assessing the sustainability of bioethanol production in Nepal
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Energy and Climate Studies, ECS.
2010 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Access to modern energy services derived from renewable sources is a prerequisite, not only for economic growth, rural development and sustainable development, but also for energy security and climate change mitigation. The least developed countries (LDCs) primarily use traditional biomass and have little access to commercial energy sources. They are more vulnerable to problems relating to energy security, air pollution, and the need for hard-cash currency to import fossil fuels. This thesis evaluates sugarcane-molasses bioethanol, a renewable energy source with the potential to be used as a transport fuel in Nepal.

Sustainability aspects of molasses-based ethanol have been analyzed. Two important indicators for sustainability, viz. net energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) balances have been used to assess the appropriateness of bioethanol in the life cycle assessment (LCA) framework. This thesis has found that the production of bioethanol is energy-efficient in terms of the fossil fuel inputs required to produce it. Life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from production and combustion are also lower than those of gasoline. The impacts of important physical and market parameters, such as sugar cane productivity, the use of fertilizers, energy consumption in different processes, and price have been observed in evaluating the sustainability aspects of bioethanol production.

The production potential of bioethanol has been assessed. Concerns relating to the fuel vs. food debate, energy security, and air pollution have also been discussed. The thesis concludes that the major sustainability indicators for molasses ethanol in Nepal are in line with the goals of sustainable development. Thus, Nepal could be a good example for other LDCs when favorable governmental policy, institutional set-ups, and developmental cooperation from donor partners are in place to strengthen the development of renewable energy technologies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology , 2010. , ix, 67 p.
Series
Trita-ECS, 2010-01
Keyword [en]
Bioethanol, sustainability, life cycle assessment, net energy values, greenhouse gas (GHG) balances, sustainable development, least developed countries (LDCs), Nepal
National Category
Energy Engineering Climate Research
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25336ISBN: 978-91-7415-769-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-25336DiVA: diva2:357537
Presentation
2010-11-05, M 263, Brinellvägen 68, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
QC 20101029Available from: 2010-10-29 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2011-02-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Net energy balance of molasses based ethanol: The case of Nepal
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Net energy balance of molasses based ethanol: The case of Nepal
2009 (English)In: Renewable & sustainable energy reviews, ISSN 1364-0321, E-ISSN 1879-0690, Vol. 13, no 9, 2515-2524 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper evaluates life cycle energy analysis of molasses based ethanol (MOE) in Nepal. Net energy value (NEV), net renewable energy value (NREV) and energy yield ratio are used to evaluate the energy balance of MOE in Nepal. Total energy requirements in sugarcane farming, cane milling and ethanol conversion processes are estimated and energy allocation is made between co-products (molasses and sugar) as per their market prices. The result shows negative NEV (−13.05 MJ/L), positive NREV (18.36 MJ/L) and energy yield ratio (7.47). The higher positive value of NREV and energy yield ratio reveal that a low amount of fossil fuels are required to produce 1 L of MOE. However, negative NEV reveals that the total energy consumption (both fossil and renewables) to produce the ethanol is higher than its final energy content. Nevertheless, the renewable energy contribution amounts to 91.7% of total energy requirements. The effect of the increased price of molasses and reduced energy consumption in the sugarcane milling and ethanol conversion are found to be significant in determining the energy values and yield ratio of MOE. In addition, there are clear measures that can be taken to improve efficiency along the production chain. Finally, energy security, scarcity of hard currency for importing fossil fuels and opportunities for regional development are also strong reasons for considering local renewable energy options in developing countries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier's ScienceDirect, 2009
Keyword
Molasses-based ethanol; Life cycle energy analysis; Net energy value; Energy yield ratio; Nepal
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25315 (URN)10.1016/j.rser.2009.06.028 (DOI)000270637000025 ()2-s2.0-68749100592 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20101029Available from: 2010-10-18 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
2. Greenhouse gas balances of molasses based ethanol in Nepal
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Greenhouse gas balances of molasses based ethanol in Nepal
2011 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 19, no 13, 1471-1485 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper evaluates life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) balances in production and use of molasses-based ethanol (EtOH) in Nepal. The total life cycle emissions of EtOH is estimated at 432.5 kgCO(2eq) m(-3) ethanol (i.e. 20.4 gCO(2eq) MJ(-1)). Avoided emissions are 76.6% when conventional gasoline is replaced by molasses derived ethanol. A sensitivity analysis was performed to verify the impact of variations in material and energy flows, and allocation ratios in the GHG balances. Market prices of sugar and molasses, amount of nitrogen-fertilizers used in sugarcane production, and sugarcane yield per hectare turn out to be important parameters for the GHG balances estimation. Sales of the surplus electricity derived from bagasse could reduce emissions by replacing electricity produced in diesel power plants. Scenario analysis on two wastewater processes for treatment of effluents obtained from ethanol conversion has also been carried out. If wastewater generated from ethanol conversion unit is treated in pond stabilization (PS) treatment process, GHG emissions alarmingly increase to a level of 4032 kgCO(2eq) m(-3) ethanol. Results also show that the anaerobic digestion process (ADP) and biogas recovery without leakages can significantly avoid GHG emissions, and improve the overall emissions balance of EtOH in Nepal. At a 10% biogas leakage, life cycle emissions is 1038 kgCO(2eq) m(-3) ethanol which corresponds to 44% avoided emissions compared to gasoline. On the other hand, total emissions surpass the level of its counterpart (i.e. gasoline) when the leakage of biogas exceeds 23.4%.

Keyword
Greenhouse gas balances, Life cycle analysis, Molasses based ethanol, Nepal
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25317 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.04.012 (DOI)000293118400009 ()2-s2.0-79959763813 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20101029. Updated from submitted to published.Available from: 2010-10-18 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved
3. Ethanol production and fuel substitution in Nepal—Opportunity to promote sustainable development and climate change mitigation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ethanol production and fuel substitution in Nepal—Opportunity to promote sustainable development and climate change mitigation
2010 (English)In: Renewable & sustainable energy reviews, ISSN 1364-0321, E-ISSN 1879-0690, Vol. 14, no 6, 1644-1652 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper explores the potential for ethanol production and fuel substitution in Nepal based on established sugarcane production, installed capacity for sugar and ethanol production, economic opportunities for the national economy, and potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At present conditions, 18,045 m3 ethanol can be annually produced in Nepal without compromising the production of food products from sugar cane such as sugar, chaku and shakhar. The effects for the country can be manifold. As much as 14% of gasoline import reduction, and annual savings of US$ 10 million could be achieved through the introduction of the E20. The activity can provide an incentive for improved yields in sugarcane production, and help develop the industrial sector. This, in turn, will have a positive effect in terms of job and income generation in the rural areas where 85% of the population live. Improvement of agricultural practices for sugarcane could also have an indirect and positive effect on improving other agriculture activities. Furthermore, the use of ethanol in the transport sector will have a positive environmental effect while reducing CO2 emissions and combating pollution in the Kathmandu Valley. Finally, the substitution of ethanol in transport will imply lower imports of oil products and less draining of resources from the Nepalese economy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier's ScienceDirect, 2010
Keyword
Ethanol; Bioenergy; Developing countries; Fuel substitution; Sustainable development
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-25319 (URN)10.1016/j.rser.2010.03.004 (DOI)000278300500015 ()2-s2.0-77950857987 (Scopus ID)
Note
QC 20101029Available from: 2010-10-18 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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