Utilization of local bioresources for transport fuels - System analysis for decision support

Sammanfattning: This thesis presents a comprehensive system analysis of the utilization of biowaste and forest industry residues to produce transportation fuels. It explores various aspects such as the constraints to the production system’s value chain development, the utilization of the geographical proximity of biofuel technology innovation system components, environmental impacts, and economic costs. The primary goal is to establish a knowledge base that can aid regional policymakers and decision-makers in formulating informed policies for the efficient management of local bioresources for transport fuel production. By addressing these aspects, the study seeks to contribute to the wider discourse on efficient local bioresource management and transition to a low-carbon economy. The focused bioresources in this thesis are municipal biowaste and forest industry residues (i.e., sawdust, black liquor, crude tall oil, and fiber waste of the pulp and paper industry). The study focuses on three systems: i) biowaste to biogas for transport, ii) biowaste and sawdust to hydrogen, and iii) forest industry residues to liquid biofuels for transport.The biofuel policy instruments in Sweden have proven to be effective in introducing alternative transport fuels, particularly in big cities or urban areas. The results of the biowaste to biogas value chain analysis show that development in the Gävleborg region is stagnated throughout the value chain compared to the national average. This stagnation is mainly attributed to local geodemographic factors. The identified obstacles to development include a lack of regional political agreement regarding the use of biogas as a viable transport fuel, insufficient connectivity and communication among the various regional actors and stakeholders, and a limited understanding among stakeholders of the potential and socio-economic impacts of biogas. The environmental and economic assessment of hydrogen production from biowaste and sawdust is performed from a life cycle perspective, using SimaPro LCA software and CML-IA, 2001 impact assessment method. Economic analysis includes capital and operational expenditures and monetization cost of life cycle environmental impacts. The results show that hydrogen production from biowaste has a higher global warming, photochemical oxidant, and freshwater eutrophication potential than sawdust. Biowaste conversion to hydrogen performs far better in ozone depletion, terrestrial ecotoxicity, abiotic depletion-fossil, abiotic depletion, human toxicity, and freshwater ecotoxicity potential. The fossil energy inputs in biogas and pyrolysis oil reforming, emissions from the digestate treatment, storage, and utilization as bio-fertilizer are the main contributing processes to the overall environmental impacts of biowaste and sawdust conversion to hydrogen. The sensitivity analysis of the LCA results indicates that feedstock to biogas/pyrolysis oil yield ratio and the type of energy source for the reforming process can significantly influence the results, particularly climate change, abiotic depletion, and human toxicity. The life cycle cost (LCC) analysis reveals that the production of hydrogen from biowaste exhibits a lower cost compared to sawdust. This significant cost reduction in the biowaste case can be attributed to lower variable operating expenses (OPEX), primarily due to the price of the biowaste itself. Whereas, in the sawdust case, the feedstock contributes the highest percentage (54%) to the system's OPEX, indicating that variable OPEX is highly sensitive to sawdust prices. Additionally, the capital investment required for the biowaste case was 50% lower, which further contributes to the lower overall LCC compared to the sawdust case.The results of forest industry residues to liquid biofuel technology development and the utilization of system components in geographical proximity indicate that geographical proximity can significantly influence the system’s structural growth, trajectory, and development pace. An adapted version of the technological innovation system (TIS) framework was operationalized with the lens of geographical proximity utilization of the system components to the technology development and diffusion. The method of data acquisition involved document analysis and interviews with subsystem actors. The study found that the development of the system is hampered by competition between technologies and low utilization of geographical proximity of the system components, which was partly attributed to a lack of network among subsystem actors and with the national TIS structure. Bioresources in Gävleborg are present in substantial amounts, particularly biowaste from agriculture, the food industry, and households, as well as biomass from the forest industry, which have the potential to be utilized for transport fuel production. However, the evolution of their utilization to power transportation in Gävleborg has been delayed in comparison to several other regions in Sweden. In the case of the technology development of forest industry residue-based transport fuels, the utilization of geographical proximity of artefacts and institutions has played a crucial role. Significant strides have been accomplished in diverse technology domains. However, these advancements have faced obstacles, partially due to the rivalry among system actors aiming to secure a competitive edge in acquiring both knowledge and capital resources and the underutilization of the geographical proximity of actors and industry networks. Based on these research findings, recommendations are provided to support policy and strategy aiming to enhance the utilization of local bioresources for transportation fuels sustainably and cost-effectively with increased local benefits. For example, the study recommends addressing the identified local political, communication, and networking issues, along with integrating regional geodemographic conditions into national biofuel policies and measures. By addressing identified challenges, the Gävleborg region can overcome the stagnation in bioresource to transportation fuel technological systems development and leverage its significant potential.This thesis adds valuable insights to the sustainability transition literature about the environment, economy, and the geography of innovation processes. The findings highlight the need for policy interventions to foster collaboration, coordination, and knowledge sharing among stakeholders, as well as support for the development and commercialization of emerging technologies, including forest-based transport fuel technologies. The analysis of cost and environmental impacts of bioresource utilization for hydrogen production provides insights into the potential trade-offs and benefits of different feedstocks and impact categories. The study provides important input for policy and strategy development towards a more sustainable and cost-effective use of local bioresources for transport fuel production in Gävleborg. This study can also serve as a valuable reference for researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders interested in the sustainable utilization of renewable resources for biofuel production, contributing to the advancement of knowledge in this critical area.