Transport is responsible for about a quarter of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions. Last years, while most sectors have reduced CO2 emissions, transport’s share has steadily increased.
In 2011, the European Commission in its report “Impact Assessment-Accompanying document to the White Paper Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area” put forward that the potential greenhouse gas emissions reduction from the use of biofuels depends on the feedstock and their production methods.
In this sense, it is essential to evaluate the sustainability of biofuels throughout their whole life cycle in order to establish which ones are the most sustainable ones. Furthermore, as the sustainability is “the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic and social dimensions” the sustainability assessment and measurement must take into account not just environmental impacts, but also economic and social impacts.
Before promoting the use of any biofuel or alternative energy system, the impacts related to this biofuel should be deeply known. Furthermore, the assessment of the sustainability should not be carried out focusing on the use stage; the whole life cycle should be studied: raw materials obtaining, manufacturing, transport or distribution and use.
BIOLCA will enable users to evaluate the sustainability of biofuels through individual or comparative studies and analyzes environmental, economic and social parameters.
The project will improve the tool developed in the framework of GAITEK Programme (a Basque Government’s funding instrument) incorporating new propulsion models, updating the impact assessment methodology, improving the user interface, etc. Once the technical and performance improvements are implemented, the BIOLCA tool will be validated and demonstrated by means of two pilot experiences, which will be carried out in two potential users with important road transport fleets: City Hall, with a fleet of 152 city buses (Bilbobus) and CESPA, a garbage collection company, with a fleet of 18 trucks. Therefore, BIOLCA tool will be tested with real data and situations, and results obtained from both pilot experiences will be an important step forward in the sustainable development strategies of both agents involved.
The innovative character of BIOLCA is based on the following innovative aspects:
- Specific software: today, most LCA tools on the market are quit general and can assess the impacts of almost any product or service. Except for some sector such as building or plastic industry, there is not any LCA software specialized in specific sectors. This versatility makes that often these tools are difficult to use and the interface is not very intuitive. BIOLCA is a powerful tool specifically designed for biofuels, and includes a database that covers the whole life cycle of biofuels. The tool has been designed to be intuitive and wasy to use.
- Sustainable assessment: most of the LCA applications only analyze environmental impacts. Some software tools include Life Cycle Costing (economic analysis), and just few applications include the assessment of social impacts. BIOLCA, as a sustainability tool, assesses not only environmental, but also social and economic impacts.
- Methodology: BIOLCA has been designed with an unique methodology which, based on LCA approach, has been adapted to include social and economic impacts. Furthermore, BIOLCA has a configurable structure for weighting the impacts, which allows to the users to configure the systems according to their own criteria.