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Institute of

AT Agricultural Technology


Site-specific life cycle assessment of energy crops

Lead Institute AT Institute of Agricultural Technology

Corn field
© Thünen-Institut

A controversial debate is on-going about the conversion of maize for energy. The debate about food-feed-and food for biofuels is based on the same arguments and very emotional. Within our project we would like to measure and model environmental impacts in order to support figures and facts for that debate.

Background and Objective

Our project is based on the climate programme of the German Government. Greenhouse gas emissions in Germany should be reduced by 40% in 2020 based on the reference year 1990.
Aim of the project is to provide precise but also as far as possible universally applicable facts  

  • What are the environmental impacts of bioenergy from maize on a life cycle basis?
  • How much ammonia and how much nitrous oxide is emitted when digestate from biogas plants is applied at five different locations?
  • What are the most promising measures for emission reduction and which trade-offs exist?

Target Group

Political decision makers and farmers


Regionalised environmental impacts of energy crop production are calculated for five locations in Germany using LCA

Data and Methods

We use measured emission data (NH3, N2O, CH4, etc.) in order to derive regional-specific emission factors for various gases after digestate application that can be applied in LCA.

Our Research Questions

What are the spatial and temporal variability of emissions after digestate application?

To which extent contribute emissions from digestate application to environmental impacts, particularly global warming and acidification?


Intermediate results are presented at conferences and workshops. Final results will be shown on our website but also on webpages of project partners and the funding body.

Involved external Thünen-Partners


9.2010 - 6.2015

Funding Body:

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