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Under what conditions is the bioethanol and biodiesel produced entirely in the Basque Country sustainable?

Keywords: Policy Briefings, BC3, Cambio Climático, Biocombustibles, Análisis de ciclo de vida, Gases de efecto invernadero, Biocombustibles de “primera generación”

Author(s): Agustin del Prado, Patricia Gallejones y Guillermo Pardo

Date: 2015-21-05

Issue: 2015-03

  Download this Policy Briefings (443 KB.)


  • The process of agricultural production, and especially anything related to the management of fertilisation, largely determines the uncertainty in the estimation of the different environmental impact of biofuel production.
  • The most widely used methodologies for estimating the impact on biofuel production are not sufficiently precise for the production agricultural stage of the same.
  • The handling of nitrogen fertilisers and the effect of climatology during the cultivation stage greatly affects nitrous oxide emissions and are the major determinants of the carbon footprint during biofuel production.
  • Organic fertilisation promotes the reduction of the carbon footprint during the production of biofuels such as wheat-derived ethanol and rapeseed-derived diesel. They in turn increase other effects such as water contamination or the acidification of ecosystems.
  • There is very little likelihood of meeting the requirement of legislation on biofuel sustainability, which recommends a reduction of at least 35 % in greenhouse gases compared to its equivalent fossil fuel, in the case of the production of ethanol and diesel through the use of crops such as wheat and rapeseed for the current limited fertilisation conditions in those areas vulnerable to nitrate contamination and especially in the case of mineral fertilisers .
  • While organic fertilisation is more likely to meet the standards of sustainability, the direct impact on the use of the land is even greater than in the case of minerally fertilised crops .

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