A Coupled Modeling Framework for Allocation Design in Land-Use and Land-Cover Changes to Optimize Biofuel Feedstock Production

Ana Catalina Cram, University of Texas at El Paso


Environmental awareness has increased the demand for renewable energy. Notably, the production of biofuels from feedstock is gaining interest as a viable measure to reduce fossil fuels consumption. Nevertheless, it is crucial to identify the trade-offs between bioenergy crop cultivation and the environmental impact on land, water, and atmosphere. Intensifying biofuel cultivation trigger effects associated with Land Use and Land-use-change, which are complex to assess. While hydrological models had been used to investigate the environmental impacts of land-use changes on water and soil quality, their quantitative assessment is often incomplete. Changes in land use and agricultural activities also contribute to Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions known to influences atmospheric force change. In order to supply the growing biofuel demand, sustainable approaches where natural resources are efficiently used must be developed. One key challenge on these approaches is optimal land use allocation to reduce the trade-offs between agroecosystems and the environment. This research proposes a coupled modeling framework to optimize land use allocation for biofuel feedstock production at the watershed scale. The model estimates the potential effects on water quality, water demand, soil erosion, and GHG emissions from cultivating and producing biofuels from first-generation and second-generation feedstocks and provides optimal landscape scenarios. This framework couples the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and the Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation Model (GREET) to quantify the potential effects on soil quality, water quality and emissions produced from changing the land use to cultivate biofuel feedstock instead of regional crops. The integrative approach incorporates a Multi-Objective Genetic Algorithm (MOEA) to assess land-use allocation, maximizing biomass production while minimizing the environmental impacts on soil, water, and atmosphere.

Subject Area

Sustainability|Alternative Energy|Climate Change|Transportation

Recommended Citation

Cram, Ana Catalina, "A Coupled Modeling Framework for Allocation Design in Land-Use and Land-Cover Changes to Optimize Biofuel Feedstock Production" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI22618277.