Beyond Life Cycle Analysis: Using an Agent-Based Approach to Model the Emerging Bio-Energy Industry
Life cycle analysis (LCA) provides a methodology to quantify the environmental impacts of a product or process throughout its entire supply chain. However when used alone, this approach fails to account for the local variability in non-homogeneous systems. Agent-based modeling (ABM) can be used to supplement life cycle analysis to account for these variances. Using spatially-explicit input parameters, a hybrid LCA / agent-based emission modeling framework was built for a theoretical farm region. Using market and policy input parameters, the development of the switchgrass biofuel and bio-electricity markets were analyzed at the local level. Though this research is currently in an early stage of development, this hybrid LCA/ABM approach has been shown to be a useful tool for assessing small scale variability and interaction amongst variables.