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Kalu, Amarachi; Vrzel, Janja; Kolb, Sebastian; Karl, Jürgen; Marzahn, Philip; Pfaffenberger, Fabian and Ludwig, Ralf (2021): Considering the Environmental Impacts of Bioenergy Technologies to Support German Energy Transition. In: Energies, Vol. 14, No. 6, 1534

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Clean energy for all, as listed in the United Nation's SDG7, is a key component for sustainable environmental development. Therefore, it is imperative to uncover the environmental implications of alternative energy technologies. SustainableGAS project simulates different process chains for the substitution of natural gas with renewable energies in the German gas market. The project follows an interdisciplinary approach, taking into account techno-social and environmental variabilities. However, this research highlights the project results from the environmental perspective. So far, a detailed assessment of the environmental costs of alternative gas technologies with a focus on the process of energy transition has remained rare. Although such data constitute key inputs for decision-making, this study helps to bridge a substantial knowledge gap. Competing land-use systems are examined to secure central ecosystem services. To fulfill this obligation, an Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs (InVEST) serves as the modelling tool. InVEST assesses ecosystem services (ES) that are or may be affected by alternative bioenergy technologies. Spatially explicit model results include the water provisioning from the Water Yield Model (WYM), soil erosion and sedimentation described by the Sediment Delivery Ratio (SDR), and nutrient fluxes (N) in response to changing land use are obtained through the Nutrient Delivery Ratio (NDR). The detailed model results are finally extrapolated, which provides a comprehensive image of the environmental impacts associated with bioenergy expansion in Germany from our combination of unique Renewable Gas Plants (RGPs). The final result shows that nutrient load will reduce in southern Germany by the year 2050 compared to the reference state, and biomass use reduced by 46% crops.

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