Large-Scale Biorefineries in Sweden: a Multidisciplinary Study

An interdisciplinary research project addressing the development of commercial biorefinery in Sweden has been carried out between June 2015 and May 2018 by the Luleå University of Technology (LTU), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and RISE Research Institute of Sweden.

Starting from a 2050 scenario being related to the Swedish context, such study aims at generating new knowledge and a model framework for advanced system analysis in the field of new value chains, products and efficient biomass feedstock utilisation.

Seven main facts have been highlighted:

  • Despite sectorial differences, on the aggregate level the biofuel production doesn’t affect the total production of wood;
  • By-products such as forest residues, bark and sawdust deriving from forest industry may be useful for biofuel production, with overall transportation savings but uncertainties related to cost due to technology solutions being adopted;
  • Feedstocks markets will remain stable in the medium term as biofuel targets rise, that is woody biomass markets can handle the additional demand pressure from biofuel production in Sweden;
  • A wide range of technological solutions and localisation options to reach biofuel targets are available thanks to economy-of-scale and high biomass-to-biofuel conversion efficiencies, meaning decreased production costs;
  • Projected price effects will not affect the profitability of investments in large-scale biorefineries, while the impact of cost is much more severe for smaller plants;
  • Site-specific integration opportunities lead to a careful choice in terms of geographic locations of biofuel production facilities in order to minimise costs (proximity is a strategic feature);
  • While decentralised supply chains configurations are favourable at very high biofuel production levels or under very high biomass competition, centralised supply chains are preferable under lower biomass competition conditions.
Differences between decentralised and centralised supply chains, pag. 23 of the above-mentioned study.
Differences between decentralised and centralised supply chains, pag. 23 of the above-mentioned study.

The whole study underlines the significant role of industry as well as that of policy makers, technological providers and research institutes: as biofuel production costs still exceed the price of fossil transport fuels after implementation of the investigated cost reduction strategies in Sweden, policy support and stimulation of further technological development is essential to achieve cost parity with fossil resources.

This post is based on Large-scale implementation of biorefineries: New value chains, products and efficient biomass feedstock utilisation by Lundmark R., Forsell N., Leduc S., Lundgren J., Ouraich I., Pettersson K. and Wetterlund E.

Additional material and results can be found on:

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