Conditions for resource-efficient production of biofuels for transport in Sweden

Detta är en avhandling från Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Sammanfattning: Transportation has continued to increase worldwide and fossil-fuel dependency is strong which leads to a number of problems, e.g. increased emissions of green-house gases (GHG) and risks related to energy security. Biofuels have until now been one of the few renewable alternatives which have been able to replace fossil fuels on a large scale. The biofuel share in relation to the total use of fuel in the transportation sector is still small, but in many places in the world political targets are set to increase the share of renewable fuels, of which biofuels are supposed to be an important part. Within the European Union targets for renewable energy have been set, including within the transportation sector, where 10% shall come from renewable sources by 2020 according to the EU Renewable Energy Directive (EU RES). Biofuels also need to fulfill the sustainability criteria in the EU RES, to be regarded as renewable. Depending on how biofuels are produced their resource efficiency varies, and the differences in environmental and economic performance can for instance be significant.The aim of this thesis is to describe and analyze conditions for a development towards increased and more resource-efficient production of biofuels in Sweden. The conditions have been studied from a regional resource perspective and from a biofuel producer perspective since it has been assumed that the producers are in possession of important knowledge, and potentially will play an important role in future biofuel development. The concept of resource efficiency used in this thesis includes an environmental and economic perspective as well as an overall societal dimension to some extent. The region of Östergötland in Sweden was used for the assessment of the resourcefocused biofuel potential for the year 2030, where two scenarios based on assessments regarding socio-technical development in relation to regional resources were used. The scenarios were based on semi-structured interviews with biofuel actors, literature studies and information from experts in the field. In the EXPAN (Expansion) scenario a continued development in line with the current one was assumed, but also an increased availability of feedstock primarily within the agricultural and waste sectors (also including byproducts from industry) for biofuel production. In the INNTEK (Innovation and Technology development) scenario greater technological progress was assumed to also enable the use of some unconventional feedstock besides increased available arable land and improved collection/availability of certain feedstock. Biomass feedstock from four categories was included in the potential: waste, agriculture, forestry and aquatic environments. One important feedstock which was not included in this study, but which is often included in studies of potential, is lignocellulosic material from the forest. This choice was also supported by the regional actors who judged it as less probable that there will be any large-scale use of such feedstock for biofuels in this region within the given timeframe. Regarding arable land available for biofuel production a share of 30% was assumed at maximum in the region, of which 15% is already used for cereal production for ethanol fuel. On these additional 15% assumed to be available for biofuel production year 2030, ley cropping for production of biogas was assumed in this study. Aquatic biomass is often not included in biofuel potentials. Here, algae were assumed to be a potentially interesting substrate for biogas production since harvesting algae in for instance the Baltic Sea could be seen as a multifunctional measure, i.e., contributing additional environmental benefits such as reducing eutrophication. Based on the assumption that the energy need in the transportation sector will be the same in 2030 as in 2010, up to 30% could be substituted with biofuels in the EXPAN scenario and up to 50% in the INNTEK scenario, without seriously conflicting with other interests such as food or feed production. In the study of potential, production systems for biogas production were   prioritized since such systems were judged to have a large potential for resource efficiency. This is because they have a big capacity to utilize by-products and waste as feedstock, and also because they can contribute to closing the loops of plant nutrients, seen as an important goal in society, if the digestate is returned to arable land.The utilization of by-products and waste however in many cases requires cooperation between different actors in society. Within the research field of industrial symbiosis, cooperation regarding material and energy flows is studied from different perspectives, e.g. how such cooperation between actors evolves and to what extent such cooperation can contribute to improving the environmental and economic performance of systems. Both these perspectives are interesting in relation to biofuels since production often involves a large number of energy- and material flows at the same time as resource efficiency is important. How the producers organize the production when it comes to feedstock, energy, by-products and products and what influences this is therefore interesting to study. In this thesis four biofuel producers of three different biofuels (ethanol, biodiesel and biogas) on the Swedish market were studied, focusing on how they organize their biofuel production in terms of e.g. their material and energy flows, and how they intend to organize it in the future. The study is based on semi-structured interviews with the biofuel producers as well as literature studies. In all the cases, a number of areas of material and energy flow cooperation were identified and it could also be concluded that there had been some change regarding these patterns over time. Looking into the future a clear change of strategy was identified in the ethanol case and partly also in the biodiesel case where a development towards improved valorisation and differentiation of by-product flows was foreseen. If such a “biorefinery” strategy is realized, it can potentially improve the economic viability and resource efficiency in these biofuel producers. In the biogas cases, instead a strategy to lower the costs for feedstock through the use of lower quality feedstock was identified. This strategy also has a potential to increase economic viability and improve the resource efficiency. However, the success of this strategy is to a large extent dependent on how the off-set of the biofertilizer can be arranged regarding the economic challenges that the biogas producers’ experience, and yet no strategy for implementation regarding this was identified. The EU Renewable Energy Directive was mentioned in relation to most cooperation projects and therefore regarded as an important critical factor. All of the studied companies also struggle to be competitive, for which reason the importance of the direct economic aspects of cooperation seems to increase.