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Given growing demand for clean energy to mitigate greenhouse gases emissions, the Thai government has developed Alternative Energy Development Plan (AEDP) for the period 2015–2036. Under this plan, the production of ethanol is expected to grow considerably, from 3.5 million litres per day in 2015, to 11.3 million litres per day in 2036. Such an increase in the ethanol production would, inevitably, have a direct impact on water consumption and land use for growing energy crops. This paper, therefore, aims to assess the implications of ethanol production on agriculture, water, energy and environment. For this purpose, four scenarios (AEDP, SC50, S100 and C100), developed in this paper, represent a range of energy crops for ethanol production. An assessment developed in this study – employing a combination of GAEZ, CROPWAT and LEAP – has suggested that the selection of suitable crops for the purpose of ethanol production would have significant impacts on agriculture, energy, water and environment. The results show that ethanol production from sugar cane would require less crop cultivation area and less irrigation requirement than the production from cassava. In addition, it would not only contribute to higher crude oil savings but also generate less CO2 emissions and hence help mitigating CO2 emissions. Importantly, it would result in a higher net energy gain. A high crop production demand and fertilizer requirement could, however, become a challenge. This paper, therefore, recommends that the implementation of agricultural zoning, the advancement of crop species and ethanol conversion technology, and the promotion of organic fertilizer from agricultural residues and organic pesticides could be the effective strategies in order to overcome this challenge.
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