Anna Hennecke

Research themes
  • Methods
  • Macroeconomic Issues
Research countries
  • Mexico
Thesis title

Impact of biofuel production on freshwater resources and greenhouse gas emissions – LCA case studies on selected farming systems in Mexico

Thesis abstract

A large number of life cycle assessment studies have been conducted for biofuels. These mainly address GHG emissions from the use of inputs like fertilizers, use of fossil energy carriers etc. Whereas comprehensive data on GHG emissions exist with that focus, data is scarce on two other aspects of the sustainability of biofuels:


• Impact of biofuel production on regional freshwater resources

• GHG emissions from changes in land carbon stock that are due to changes in the farming management (i.e. no tilling, crop rotations, agroforestry, residue management)


These are in particular relevant in the cultivation phase. Both questions have been neglected so far in LCA´s because they are very site-specific and vary with climate and soil conditions. A site-specific calculation is rarely considered in LCA´s for bioenergy as these studies usually target a generic comparison of product categories. However, a site specific evaluation of the impacts of biofuel production is a prerequisite to policy makers in order to allow a well-grounded choice between different energy options and provide a basis for creating incentives.


The first aim of this research is therefore to assess impacts of biofuel production on freshwater resources and assess the comparative merits/threats posed by bioenergy sourced from different regions. This assessment will include several case studies for different farming systems in different regions in Mexico.


The second aim of this research is to evaluate the effect of different farming systems in Mexico on increase and decrease of soil carbon and the consequences for the carbon footprint.


The third aim of this study is to evaluate GHG calculation and water footprint in certification systems through pilot audits/field tests in Mexico.

Doctoral research funded by

IFEU (Institute for Energy and Environmental Research) Heidelberg

GTZ (German Technical Cooperation)


Hennecke, A; Mueller-Lindenlauf, M; García, C; Fuentes, A; Riegelhaupt, E; Hellweg,S.  2016.  Optimizing water-, carbon and land use footprint of bioenergy production in Mexico - Six case studies and nationwide implications.  Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining, . Further Information


Hennecke, A., Faist, M., Reinhardt, J., Junquera, V., Neeft, J. and Fehrenbach, H..  2013.  Biofuel greenhouse gas calculations under the European Renewable Energy Directive – A comparison of the BioGrace tool vs. the tool of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.  Applied Energy, 102   : 55-62   .


García C.A. , A. Fuentes, A. Hennecke, E. Riegelhaupt, F. Manzini and O. Masera.  2011.  Life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and energy balances of sugarcane ethanol production in Mexico.  Applied Energy, 6   : 2088-2097   .

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Anna Hennecke

Junior Researcher

Ecology and Natural Resources Management