Scholarly article on topic 'The environmental and socio-economic impacts of bio-ethanol production in Thailand'

The environmental and socio-economic impacts of bio-ethanol production in Thailand Academic research paper on "Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries"

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Abstract of research paper on Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, author of scientific article — Thapat Silalertruksa, Shabbir H. Gheewala

Abstract The study assesses the impacts of the bio-ethanol production to the environment and socio-economic development in Thailand. The key assessment elements include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance, employment generation, and economic effects on gross domestic product (GDP) and trade balance of Thai economy. The results reveal that there are wide ranges of GHG emissions depending upon the production environment and especially when direct land-use change is included in the system boundary. GHG emissions for cassava and molasses ethanol range between 27 – 91 and 28 – 100g CO2-eq per MJ ethanol, respectively. For socio-economic impacts, producing bio-ethanol requires about 17-20 times more workers than gasoline for the same amount of final energy. Direct employment in agriculture contributes to more than 90% of the total employment. In addition, production of 1 TJ bio-ethanol could result in an additional GDP around 0.7-0.9M.THB and the increase of imported goods worth 0.7-1.8M.THB. However, around 0.4-1.1M.THB of imports would be saved per TJ from the promoting use of bio-ethanol to substitute gasoline. These obtained externalities raise the attractiveness of bio-ethanol in terms of net social benefit; however, it specifies to only in case that bio-ethanol production systems are sustainably managed.

Academic research paper on topic "The environmental and socio-economic impacts of bio-ethanol production in Thailand"

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Energy Procedia 9 (2011) 35 - 43

9th Eco-Energy and Materials Science and Engineering Symposium

The environmental and socio-economic impacts of bio-ethanol production in Thailand

Thapat Silalertruksaa'b'*, Shabbir H. Gheewalaa'b

aThe Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment, King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, 126 Prachauthit

Road, Bangmod, Tungkru, Bangkok 10140 bCenter for Energy Technology and Environment, Ministry of Education, Thailand

Abstract

The study assesses the impacts of the bio-ethanol production to the environment and socio-economic development in Thailand. The key assessment elements include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions performance, employment generation, and economic effects on gross domestic product (GDP) and trade balance of Thai economy. The results reveal that there are wide ranges of GHG emissions depending upon the production environment and especially when direct land-use change is included in the system boundary. GHG emissions for cassava and molasses ethanol range between 27 - 91 and 28 - 100 g CO2-eq per MJ ethanol, respectively. For socio-economic impacts, producing bio-ethanol requires about 17-20 times more workers than gasoline for the same amount of final energy. Direct employment in agriculture contributes to more than 90% of the total employment. In addition, production of 1 TJ bio-ethanol could result in an additional GDP around 0.7-0.9 M.THB and the increase of imported goods worth 0.7-1.8 M.THB. However, around 0.4-1.1 M.THB of imports would be saved per TJ from the promoting use of bio-ethanol to substitute gasoline. These obtained externalities raise the attractiveness of bio-ethanol in terms of net social benefit; however, it specifies to only in case that bio-ethanol production systems are sustainably managed.

© 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selectionand/or peer-review under responsibility of CEO of Sustainable Energy System, Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT).

Keywords: Bio-ethanol; GHGs; Socio-economic; Employment; Input-Output analysis

1. Introduction

The expectations with respect to biofuels are multidimensional, for example, the Thai government promotes the utilization of biofuels derived from indigenous feedstocks in order to enhance rural development through increasing employment and stabilizing income to farmers. The emissions of

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +668-9129-4566. Email address: thapatws@hotmail.com (T. Silalertruksa)

1876-6102 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of CEO of Sustainable Energy System, Rajamangala University of Technology Thanyaburi (RMUTT). doi: 10.1016/j.egypro.2011.09.005

greenhouse gases (GHGs), in particular carbon dioxide (CO2), are expected to decrease when fossil fuels are replaced with biofuels because the latter are derived from plant materials. However, increased demand for first generation biofuels may have negative implications for ecosystems and society if the biofuel systems are not sustainably managed. For instance, the non-environmental aspect related to biofuels such as food and fuel competition is a side effect widely being discussed today [1-2]. In addition, as compared to petroleum fuels, biofuels may result in increased GHG emissions if land-use change (LUC) occurs, especially from forest to agricultural land [3-4].

Nomenclature

AGB above-ground biomass

BGB below-ground biomass

CL cropland

DDGS dry distillers grains with solubles

FL forest land

g gram

GDP gross domestic product

GHG greenhouse gas

GL grassland

LUC land-use change

MJ megajoule

ML million litre

M.THB million Thai baht (currency unit)

TJ terajoule

Nowadays, bio-ethanol is playing an important role as an alternative fuel for passenger cars in Thailand as the production of bio-ethanol has rapidly increased from 0.4 M litre per day in 2006 to 1.1 M litre a day in 2010. Furthermore, the demand for bio-ethanol is likely to increase continuously in the foreseeable years according to the 15 years alternative energy development plan (2008-2022) which aims to achieve 9 M.litre per day bio-ethanol production in 2022 [5]. Due to this ambitious goal of bio-ethanol development, evaluation of the environmental and socio-economic impacts of bio-ethanol in Thailand would be useful to inform policy-makers regarding the external costs-benefits of bio-ethanol.

The study aims to assess the impacts of the bio-ethanol production to the environment and socioeconomic development in Thailand. The key assessment elements include GHG emissions performance, employment generation, and economic effects on gross domestic product (GDP) and trade balance. Bio-ethanol from the two major bio-ethanol in Thailand i.e. molasses and cassava, is considered in the analysis.

2. Methodology

In this study, Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used as the environmental assessment tool, Input-Output (IO) analysis as the economic assessment tool to identify and evaluate the GHG emissions performance and the socio-economic impacts of bio-ethanol system in Thailand.

2.1. Life cycle assessment (LCA)

LCA is a tool for compilation and evaluation of the environmental impacts of a product or service system throughout its life cycle. The crucial advantage of a life cycle approach is that all burdens since raw material extraction through production, to use and disposal will be accounted. This approach is useful for evaluating the GHG emissions performance of transportation biofuels by a fair comparison with conventional petroleum fuels because it focuses on the entire life cycle of the biofuels rather than just the combustion in the vehicles. It must be noted here that the consideration of only GHG emissions is not the full LCA as per the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which suggests the use of multiple environmental impact categories [6]. However, the reduction in emissions of GHGs is one of the major justifications for the promotion of biofuels use and is thus considered to indicate their environmental performance.

2.1.1. Functional unit

Life cycle GHG emissions of cassava and molasses ethanol are assessed for the individual pathways of bio-ethanol production. The functional unit used in the assessment is 1 MJ to determine the GHG performance of bio-ethanol system when comparing with conventional gasoline. This energy basis would result in a fair comparison as the differences in the energy content between the two fuel types are accounted. As the energy content of bio-ethanol is 21.2 MJ/litre ethanol whereas that of gasoline is 32.4 MJ/litre gasoline, a litre of ethanol will therefore produce the same performance as 0.65 litre of gasoline [7]. The simplified system boundary of the study is shown in Fig. 1.

2.1.2. System boundary

The system is divided into four main stages including land-use change for new plantation areas, feedstocks cultivation and harvesting, feedstocks processing, bio-ethanol conversion and the use of bio-ethanol in vehicles. The analyses focus on the three most important GHGs of bioenergy systems i.e. carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) and the global warming potential factors

used are 1, 25, 298 kg CO2-eq/kg substance, respectively [8]. The total GHG emissions are from the various life cycle stages such as land use change and management, cultivation and harvesting, feedstock processing, bio-ethanol conversion, use in vehicles and extraction of input materials throughout the life cycle. Credits are provided for biogas recovery, excess electricity from co-generation, etc.

2.1.3. Data sources

Data sources for key parameters of the base case scenarios of the bio-ethanol systems in Thailand are as follows: (1) feedstocks production and yields are the country average data [9]; and (2) primary data of molasses and cassava ethanol production in Thailand from the existing commercial plants [10]. Parameters used to evaluate LUC and its implications to GHG emissions are based on the IPCC guidelines [11].

2.2. Input-Output (IO) analysis

Input-output analysis is a tool to study the interrelationships within and between economic sectors of a country and it can be used to determine the impacts of an economic activity on the whole economy [12]. The advantage of IO analysis is that direct, indirect and induced impacts of an economic activity on the whole economy can be calculated. In this study, the "hybrid method", a combination of the analytical approach (micro level) and Input-Output model (macro level), is applied to investigate the employment and other socio-economic impacts of bio-ethanol production in Thailand. The functional unit used in the comparison is 1 TJ of bio-ethanol. The scope of the assessment includes quantification of direct and indirect employment effects of the existing bio-ethanol system. Direct employment is generated in cultivation and harvesting of feedstocks e.g. sugarcane and cassava cultivation as well as in the bio-ethanol processing industry. Indirect employment is generated in the industries that produce intermediate deliveries to the agriculture and biofuel processing sectors as shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1 Scope of GHG emissions and employment impacts analyses.

2.2.1. Data sources for estimating direct employment

The study estimates direct employment in agriculture by utilizing data on labor costs in feedstocks production divided by the average annual working hours in the agricultural sector in Thailand. The production costs data of cassava and sugarcane during the years 2005-2008 are collected from the Office

of Agricultural Economics [9]; while, the wage data for agriculture in Thailand are referred from the National Statistical Office (NSO) [13-14]. While, for the feedstock processing and bio-ethanol conversion stages for which there are the exact numbers of producers, direct surveys with 5 sugar mills, 5 dried-chip floors and 10 bio-ethanol plants producers have been performed to collect the actual numbers of employees in each factory.

2.2.2. Data sources for IO analysis

The study applies the most disaggregated format (180*180) of 2005 IO tables of Thailand published by the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) [15] in the analyses by aggregating into the new format (50*50 major sectors) that relevant to biofuels production. The step-by-step method to estimate the indirect employment of bio-ethanol from IO table is as follows:

(1) Calculation of the input coefficient matrix (.4) and the inverse matrix (I - A)_1 from this new aggregated 2005 IO table (50*50 sectors) to see how many production values of each sector are directly and indirectly necessary (including imports) to produce products worth of 1 million THB;

(2) Determination of direct employment coefficient: The direct labour requirement (persons-year) according to a demand of 1 million THB on each economic activity is calculated to constitute the "direct employment vector (L)". The number of employed persons in each economic sector was compiled from the Labor force survey (LFS) in year 2005 [16] and the Industrial Census year 2007 [17] of the NSO.

(3) Determination of the total employment coefficients: The total employment generated per unit of final demand in a given sector is calculated by multiplying the inverse matrix (I - A)_1 with the direct employment vector (L). From this, indirect employment coefficients can also be determined by subtracting the direct employment coefficient from the total employment coefficient of each sector.

(4) Quantifying the employment impacts of bio-ethanol production: The final demand vectors (F) of molasses ethanol, cassava ethanol and sugarcane ethanol are determined by breaking down the production costs into the cost items; thereafter, each cost item is assigned to one of the sectors defined for the former IO table.

3. Results and discussion

3.1. GHG performance of bio-ethanol in Thailand

GHG emissions per MJ of cassava and molasses ethanol in various scenarios are examined and range between 27 - 91 and 28 - 100 g CO2-eq per MJ ethanol, respectively (Tab. 1). The assessment reveals that there are wide ranges of GHG emissions depending on the production environment such as types of fuel used in ethanol plants, crops productivity and approaches to manage the crop residues and especially if direct LUC is included in the system boundary. For example, bio-ethanol conversion is an energy intensive process; therefore, using fossil fuels such as coal to produce steam and electricity will cause significantly higher GHG emissions than systems which use biomass. Bio-ethanol systems which have wastes and residues recycling such as biogas used for energy or using spent-wash to produce DDGS yield the lowest GHG emissions.

In case the changes of tropical forest land (FL) and/or grassland (GL) to cropland (CL) are included in the analyses, the GHG emissions can possibly increase from 1 to 10 times as compared to the cases where LUC is excluded. Conversion of tropical forest land to cropland results in the highest GHG emissions due to the CO2 emissions from the loss of carbon stock in above- and below-ground biomass (AGB and BGB) and non-CO2 emissions from burning biomass as part of the first clearance of land, totaling about 14.5 ton CO2-eq.ha-1yr-1. In addition, soil carbon stock change from this direct LUC also

creates GHG emissions of about 2.1 ton CO2-eq.ha"1yr"1. This is quite different from the case of converting grassland to cropland for which GHG emissions originate mainly from soil carbon stock changes i.e. 1.9 ton CO2-eq.ha_1yr_1 and the losses of carbon stocks in AGB and BGB are only about 0.8 ton CO2-eq.ha_1yr_1.

The GHG performance of bio-ethanol can be measured as the percentage GHG emissions reduction as compared to gasoline (Tab. 1). The results indicate that bio-ethanol derived from molasses in the base case scenario already provide the GHG emissions reduction compared to conventional gasoline. In contrast, the base case scenario of cassava ethanol system does not provide GHG emissions reduction compared to gasoline. This is because the existing cassava ethanol plant in Thailand uses imported coal as fuel and the primary data used in the analysis is site-specific.

3.2. Employment effects

The direct and indirect employments caused by biofuels production in Thailand are estimated as shown in Tab. 2. As per 1 TJ, producing bio-ethanol from both cassava and molasses would generate nearly the same amount of employment i.e. 5-6 persons-year. Direct employment in agriculture provides the most essential employment benefits contributing more than 90% of the total employment generation. However, for molasses ethanol, as the cost of molasses is assigned to the sugar milling sector in the IO tables, the obtained employment results from this calculation will consist of the direct employment in sugar milling and the indirect employment in other sectors that deliver materials to the sugar mill (Table 2) and the large indirect employment generated is contributed by the employment effects in agriculture (sugarcane cultivation). The significant employment in agriculture implies that the policy to promote bio-ethanol indeed helps the rural development in Thailand.

Table 1 GHG performances for various bio-ethanol systems in Thailand.

Feedstocks GHG emissions

(g CO2-eq/MJ bio-ethanol)

% Net avoided GHG emissions when comparing with gasoline8

Excluding LUC Including LUC Excluding LUC Including LUC

Range FL-CL GL-CL Range FL - CL GL - CL

Cassava 27 b -91c 249-313 63-127 73 %b - (-2%)c (-178%) - (-249%) 30% - (-42%)

Molasses 28 d-119e 292-380 71-158 77%d - (-33%)e (-222%) - (-320%) 25% - (-73%)

a % Net avoided GHG emissions are estimated based on gasoline fuel-cycle GHG emissions = 2.918 kg CO2eq./L [7] b Referring to cassava ethanol system in which ethanol plant uses biomass as fuel and recovered biogas are utilized (based on cassava yield = 34 ton/ha as policy target)

c Referring to cassava ethanol system in which ethanol plant uses coal as fuel and no recovery of biogas

d Referring to molasses ethanol system in which ethanol plant uses biomass as fuel and recovered biogas is utilized (based on sugarcane yield = 94 ton/ha as policy target)

e Referring to molasses ethanol system in which ethanol plant uses coal as fuel and no recovery of biogas

Table 2 Classification of employment in bio-ethanol production (persons/ TJ bio-ethanol).

Cassava ethanol Molasses ethanol Gasoline

Direct Indirect Total Direct Indirect Total Direct Indirect Total

Agriculture 3.0 1.6 4.6

Feedstock processing 0.0 0.3 0.3 0.2 4.4 4.7

Ethanol conversion 0.3 0.4 0.7 0.2 0.4 0.6

Total persons 3.3 2.2 5.5 0.5 4.8 5.3 0.0 0.3 0.3

In comparison with gasoline (based on the average ex-refinery prices of gasoline during 2006-2008 i.e. 16.28 THB/litre), the results show that producing bio-ethanol requires about 17-20 times more workers than gasoline on a per joule of energy content basis.

Two key reasons of the huge number of employed persons in agriculture are (1) small scale farmers with manual operation in the Thai agricultural sector; and (2) low productivity of feedstocks due to lack of good agricultural practices. Nevertheless, analyzing only the numbers of employment created by bio-ethanol by without a closer look at the characteristics and the role of employment in the biofuels sector would not be enough to interpret the social and socio-economic impacts of biofuels. Therefore, the characteristics and quality of jobs should be clarified and need further investigation.

3.3. GDP development

The gross domestic product (GDP) of a country is an indicator to measure economic performance and the size of the economy. The study determines the effects of bio-ethanol on the total value added or GDP of the Thai economy. The results show that to produce 1 TJ of cassava and molasses ethanol contribute around 0.9 and 0.7 M.THB to the national GDP, respectively (Tab. 3). The main contributor to the changes in GDP is the direct impact from agriculture; followed by the indirect impact from energy and chemicals consumption. The high share of agriculture due to feedstock cost is the largest cost component of bio-ethanol production. The shares of feedstock costs to total GDP effects range between 29- 55% of the total impacts on GDP. This increase in GDP or value added can influence the rise in income of the people as the terms of "total value added" in IO tables also include the primary inputs such as wages and salaries.

Table 3 GDP effects of bio-ethanol production in Thailand (M.THB per TJ bio-ethanol).

Bio-ethanol Direct Indirect Total

Cassava ethanol 0.44 0.42 0.86

Molasses ethanol 0.42 0.29 0.71

3.4. Trade balance

Another benefit of import substitution is the improvement of trade balance. IO analysis has been used in the same way as the analyses of impacts on GDP. Table 4 shows the import effects obtained from the multiplication of the final demands for bio-ethanol production and the import coefficients. The results show that producing 1 TJ of cassava and molasses ethanol will result in the increase of total imports around 1.05 and 0.66 M.THB, respectively. The largest contributor of imports is the indirect impacts of chemicals used in bio-ethanol conversion stage followed by the indirect impacts from energy consumed.

Nevertheless, compared to gasoline, production of biofuels to substitute gasoline could decrease the country's import around 1.1 - 1.5 M.THB per TJ.

Table 4 Import effects of bio-ethanol production in Thailand (M.THB per TJ bio-ethanol).

Bio-ethanol Direct Indirect Total Diff*

Cassava ethanol 0.30 0.75 1.05 - 1.12

Molasses ethanol 0.18 0.48 0.66 - 1.52

*Diff: Differences (M.THB/TJ) = (total import/TJ of bio-ethanol) - (total import/TJ of gasoline)

4. Conclusion

The study concludes that the policy to promote bio-ethanol in a developing country such as Thailand has a significant effect to the economy. Even though at the current crude oil prices, the production costs of bio-ethanol are higher than gasoline, either in pure or blended form and policy instruments such as tax exemptions are required from the government to promote bio-ethanol in commerce. The results obtained from the study reveal that promotion of bio-ethanol production and consumption in Thailand could result in various positive externalities to the economy such as GHG emissions reduction, employment generation, GDP development and trade balance improvement. This would raise the attractiveness of bio-ethanol and could make bio-ethanol competitive with gasoline in terms of net social benefits. However, those positive externalities depend on the condition that bio-ethanol production systems in Thailand are sustainably managed.

Acknowledgment

Financial support by the Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment (JGSEE) and the Thailand Research Fund under the Royal Golden Jubilee PhD program (Grant No. PHD/0283/2550) is gratefully acknowledged.

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