Large-scale forest-based biofuels may significantly change the forest sector

Using Nordic woody biomass can reduce the direct greenhouse gas emission from the heating and power sectors by up to 27 per cent in 2030.

This is according to Eirik Ogner Jåstad’s doctoral thesis, which is part of the Bio4Fuels Centre at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). Based on Jåstad’s models, there seem to be enough forest resources in the Nordic countries to fulfill the demand for the production of renewable biofuels, heat, and electricity.

PhD student Eirik Ogner Jåstad

PhD student Eirik Ogner Jåstad

Photo
Håkon Sparre, NMBU
In his doctoral thesis, Jåstad investigates the potential and sustainability of the production of biofuels and bioenergy from Nordic forest resources.

Jåstad has determined how the forest and energy sector will adapt to the production of biofuels and bioheat and showed that the feasibility of biofuels production from woody biomass is strongly influenced by the development of international market prices.

Forest owners will earn the most

Today, the traditional forest sector accounts for around three per cent of the total Nordic economy, which is a significant reduction the last 30 years. However, the shift from fossil fuel-based energy to a more renewable energy system makes it possible for the forest industry to reclaim its position.

"The most viable transition from fossil fuel-based energy to a renewable energy society will possibly follow by the use of woody biomass in the production of both bioenergy and biofuels," Jåstad comments.

He further elaborates:

"One important trade-off that we find in our analyses is that biofuel production yields a higher reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but at a higher cost."

In his doctoral thesis, he determined the effect of up to 40 per cent biofuels inclusion in the liquid fuel demand in the Nordic countries from 2017.

"The increased production of biofuels will reduce the profits for the entire forestry sector, mainly as a result of the increasing price of roundwood and residues," Jåstad explains.

Political support schemes needed to facilitate the use of biofuels

As part of his thesis, Jåstad also investigated various political support schemes promoting the use of biofuels based on forest resources from Nordic countries. He found that financial support of 0.60 to 0.85 euros per liter is required to facilitate the forest-based biofuels, which constitute 82 to 116 per cent of the expected price of fossil fuel in 2030. 

"Large scale biofuels production in the Nordics will remodel the forest sector, even though forest owners are the only group that will benefit from the transition. It is huge potential in the utilization of Nordic woody biomass, but the main barrier in forest-based biofuels production remains the high cost compared to fossil fuel," he says.

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Large-scale forest-based biofuels may significantly change the forest sector

Large-scale forest-based biofuels may significantly change the forest sector

There are enough biomass resources available to meet the Nordic demand for biofuels and bioheat. Increased production of biofuel will change the traditional forest sector, and the forest owners stand to gain.

Published 18. December 2020 - 12:39 - Updated 9. February 2021 - 10:35