African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6786

Full Length Research Paper

Assessing the potential of the cultivation area and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction of cassava-based fuel ethanol on marginal land in Southwest China

Lei Liu1,2,3, Dafang Zhuang2, Dong Jiang1,2* and Yaohuan Huang2
  1State Key Laboratory of Simulation and Regulation of Water Cycle in River Basin, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, Beijing 100073, China. 2State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information Systems, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China. 3College of Earth Science and Resources, Chang’an University, Southern Yanta Road 126, Xi’an 710054, Shaanxi, China.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 03 September 2012
  •  Published: 29 October 2012



Fuel ethanol from energy plants is expected to play an increasing role in the future energy system, with benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and energy security. In China, cassava is believed to be the most promising energy plants for fuel ethanol production. This study focuses on assessment of the development potential and environmental performances of fuel ethanol produced from cassava in Southwest China. An improved approach combining life cycle analysis (LCA) and Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques is presented. Firstly, spatial distribution, suitability degree and the total amount of marginal land resources suitable for cultivating cassava is identified. Then, the life cycle net energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction capacity of cassava on marginal land with different suitability degrees were calculated, based on the expanded life cycle model for cassava fuel ethanol. The results indicate that the area of marginal land for cassava plantation is 5.667 × 10ha in Southwest China. The maximum net energy production potential of fuel ethanol in this area is 6.5 × 107 GJ/a, and the total greenhouse gas emission reduction capacity is 1.43 × 106 t/a.


Key words: Cassava fuel ethanol, life cycle analysis, geographic information system, net energy production potential, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction.