Title: Mitigating environmental impacts from agriculture in emerging economies : a case study of solar powered irrigation in the South African maize production
Authors : Wettstein, Sarah
Scharfy, Deborah
von Blottnitz, Harro
Berli, Cédric
Stucki, Matthias
Conference details: 5th International EcoSummit Congress, EcoSummit 2016 - Ecological Sustainability: Engineering Change, Montpellier, 29. August - 1. September 2016
Issue Date: 30-Aug-2016
License (according to publishing contract) : Not specified
Type of review: Peer review (Abstract)
Language : English
Subjects : Maize; South Africa; Irrigation; Photovoltaic; Life cycle assessment
Subject (DDC) : 333.7: Land, recreational areas and energy
630: Agriculture
Abstract: Agriculture is among the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Particularly in emerging countries, crops are commonly irrigated with fossil fuel based energy. A joint research project of the University of Cape Town and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences was aimed to quantify the mitigation of environmental impacts through photovoltaic electricity for irrigation in the South African maize production by mean of life cycle assessment (LCA). The study focused on maize, since it is the most important staple food for South African's people. Based on a life cycle assessment covering the whole value chain of maize production in South Africa, electricity consumption for irrigation figured out to be one of the hotspots according to environmental impacts in the maize production. Consequently, the substitution of South African electricity mix for irrigation with electricity from photovoltaic was defined as an effective clean technology to mitigate the environmental impacts of the South African maize production. By switching to photovoltaic electricity supply, the global warming potential of maize production under irrigation can be reduced by 33 %. Referring to the depletion of energy resources, a reduction of 47 % can be achieved. Extrapolating to the total South African maize production area under irrigation (226'000 ha), 199 ha of solar panels are needed to produce the required electricity. Regarding to the total maize production under irrigation in South Africa, 500'000 t CO2 could be saved per year, if electricity for irrigation systems would be produced by solar panels. The clean technology of electricity production with photovoltaic for irrigation has a notable saving potential for CO2 emissions and resource depletion in the South African maize production. The benefit would be even higher, if renewable energy is expanded to further irrigated crops.
Further description : Oral presentation
Departement: Life Sciences und Facility Management
Organisational Unit: Institute of Natural Resource Sciences (IUNR)
Publication type: Conference Other
URI: https://digitalcollection.zhaw.ch/handle/11475/10569
Published as part of the ZHAW project : Applying Life Cycle Assessment for the mitigation of environmental impacts South African agrifood products
Appears in Collections:Publikationen Life Sciences und Facility Management

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