Global scenarios of irrigation water abstractions for bioenergy production: a systematic review

Stenzel, F., Gerten, D., & Hanasaki, N. (2021). Global scenarios of irrigation water abstractions for bioenergy production: a systematic review. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 25 (4) 1711-1726. 10.5194/hess-25-1711-2021.

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Abstract

Many scenarios of future climate evolution and its anthropogenic drivers include considerable amounts of bioenergy as a fuel source, as a negative emission technology, and for providing electricity. The associated freshwater abstractions for irrigation of dedicated biomass plantations might be substantial and therefore potentially increase water limitation and stress in affected regions; however, assumptions and quantities of water use provided in the literature vary strongly. This paper reviews existing global assessments of freshwater abstractions for bioenergy production and puts these estimates into the context of scenarios of other water-use sectors. We scanned the available literature and (out of 430 initial hits) found 16 publications (some of which include several bioenergy-water-use scenarios) with reported values on global irrigation water abstractions for biomass plantations, suggesting water withdrawals in the range of 128.4 to 9000 km3 yr−1, which would come on top of (or compete with) agricultural, industrial, and domestic water withdrawals. To provide an understanding of the origins of this large range, we present the diverse underlying assumptions, discuss major study differences, and calculate an inverse water-use efficiency (iwue), which facilitates comparison of the required freshwater amounts per produced biomass harvest. We conclude that due to the potentially high water demands and the tradeoffs that might go along with them, bioenergy should be an integral part of global assessments of freshwater demand and use. For interpreting and comparing reported estimates of possible future bioenergy water abstractions, full disclosure of parameters and assumptions is crucial. A minimum set should include the complete water balances of bioenergy production systems (including partitioning of blue and green water), bioenergy crop species and associated water-use efficiencies, rainfed and irrigated bioenergy plantation locations (including total area and meteorological conditions), and total biomass harvest amounts. In the future, a model intercomparison project with standardized parameters and scenarios would be helpful.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Young Scientists Summer Program (YSSP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2021 11:14
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2021 11:14
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/17158

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