Sustainable biofuel production in Argentina: a spatially-explicit exploration on the future availability and use of land for large-scale biofuel production
Pinto Nunes Nogueira Diogo, V.
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The present study aimed to determine the availability of land and potential for sustainable large-scale production from soybeans and switchgrass in Argentina up to 2030. A land-use modeling framework combining an empirical approach based on statistical analysis with a theoretical approach based on economic theory was found to be the most appropriate method to explore the dynamics and future developments of the land-use system in Argentina. It was found that under current conditions no surplus land for dedicated biofuel production is expected to become available. Nevertheless, large production of soy-based biodiesel is already taking place in Argentina, mostly as a by-product of bean crushing for soymeal production. Therefore, a potential of 80.6 PJ of soy-based biodiesel production from the existing soy complex could be expected by 2030. A higher rate of technology adoption in agriculture and livestock production would imply that less land would be required for food production and therefore 32.6 Mha could become available for dedicated biofuel production by 2030 without endangering food security and nature conservation.However, only a few areas appeared to be economically attractive for cultivation of the considered biofuel crops, namely 4.3 Mha for soybeans and 18.6 Mha for switchgrass. Considering the local specific yields, 16.1*106 odt soybeans and 70.0*106 odt switchgrass could be produced on the surplus land where biofuel crops showed a positive economic performance, which after conversion to biofuel could lead to a potential of 114.1 PJ for soy biodiesel and 596.3 PJ for switchgrass bioethanol by 2030. Furthermore, due to the increase on the demand for soymeal resulting from larger use of food crops in the feed composition of livestock production, an additional production of soybeans could be expected (8.51*106 odt). The by-product oil resulting from soybean crushing for this additional soymeal production could be then dedicatedly converted to biodiesel, thus providing an additional potential of 59.6 PJ. Therefore, a total potential of 254.4 PJ for soy-based biodiesel production could become available by 2030 according to PS scenario. However, these results are based in long-term projections that are fraught by a large degree of uncertainty, particularly in terms of future commodity market prices. Therefore, they should be interpreted as a projection according to current trends rather than a deterministic prediction.