Climate impact of the sustainable use of forest biomass in energy and material system : a life cycle perspective
Sammanfattning: Human society releases greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere while providing housing, heat, mobility and industrial production. Man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the main causes of climate change, coming mainly from burning fossil fuels and land-use changes. Sustainably managed forests play an important role in climate change mitigation with the prospect of sustainably providing essential materials and services as part of a low-carbon economy, both through the substitution of fossil-intensive fuels and material and through their potential to capture and store carbon in the long-term perspective.The overall aim of this thesis was to develop a methodology under a life cycle perspective to assess the climate impact of the sustainable use of forest biomass in bioenergy and material systems. To perform this kind of analysis a methodological framework is needed to accurately compare the different biological and technological systems with the aim to minimize the net carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and hence the climate impact. In such a comparison, the complete energy supply chains from natural resources to energy end-use services has to be considered and are defined as the system boundaries.The results show that increasing biomass production through more intensive forest management or the usage of more productive tree species combined with substitution of non-wood products and fuels can significantly reduce global warming. The biggest single factor causing radiative forcing reduction was using timber to produce wood material to replace energy-intensive construction materials such as concrete and steel. Another very significant factor was replacing fossil fuels with forest residues from forest thinning, harvest, wood processing, and post-use wood products. The fossil fuel that was replaced by forest biomass affected the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, with carbon-intensive coal being most beneficial to replace. Over the long term, an active and sustainable management of forests, including their use as a source for wood products and bioenergy allows the greatest potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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