LCA originated in the 1960s and 1970s in the energy industry. Since then, it has evolved into a wide ranging tool used to determine impacts of products or systems over several environmental and resource issues. The use of LCA has become more prevalent in research, industry, and policy and its use continues to expand as users seek to encompass impacts as diverse as resource accounting and social well-being. Carbon policy for bioenergy has driven many of these changes. Enabling assessment of complex issues over a life cycle basis is beneficial, but the process is sometimes difficult. The use of LCA to help frame policy and global impacts is becoming increasingly complex and more uncertain. The charged environment surrounding biofuels and bioenergy exacerbates this. Reaching its full potential to help guide difficult policy discussions and emerging research involves successfully managing LCA's transition from attributional to consequential and from retrospective to prospective. This chapter explores LCA's evolution, use, and associated challenges within bioenergy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGreenhouse Gas Balances of Bioenergy Systems
EditorsPatricia Thornley, Paul Adams
PublisherElsevier Academic Press Inc
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780128094587
ISBN (Print)9780081010365
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2017


  • Bioenergy
  • Biofuels
  • LCA
  • Policy
  • Sustainability
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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