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WIREs Energy Environ.
Impact Factor: 3.297

The climate benefit of Swedish ethanol: present and prospective performance

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Abstract Biofuels are introduced in the transportation sector as a means to reduce the sectorʼns greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. European and other national and global standardization schemes for biofuels also include certain minimum GHG emission reduction among the requirements to be met. Assessments of the GHG performance of biofuels are complex due to the complexities of physical, chemical, and biological conversion processes, feedstock diversity, and variability in site‐specific environmental conditions. Differences may also arise in analytical approaches, including in how direct and indirect land use change is accounted for. Current production of first‐generation ethanol in Sweden, based on wheat, causes relatively low GHG emissions, whereas a future expansion may cause increased emissions from changes in land use and less optimal utilization of by‐products. Such negative impacts may be avoided by an introduction and expansion of second‐generation ethanol based on lignocellulosic feedstock (e.g., straw, short rotation coppice, and forest residues), which eventually could become the major feedstock in ethanol production. This transition to low, indirect impact ethanol systems creates an opening for a significant expansion of ethanol in the transport sector without compromising the sizeable climate benefits and sustainable resource exploitation. This article is categorized under: Bioenergy > Science and Materials Bioenergy > Systems and Infrastructure Bioenergy > Climate and Environment
Energy flows in current production systems for wheat‐based ethanol in Sweden. Straw harvest includes transport to farm‐gate, and DDGS and ethanol include energy inputs to plant gate. (Data adapted from Refs 6 and 16.)
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A theoretical potential of future expansion of Swedish low, indirect impact ethanol production and related GHG performance (based on system expansion), including dLUC and currently available technology.
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Estimated amount of agricultural land available for expanding bioenergy production in Sweden without compromising current food and feed output. The total amount of agricultural land is currently 3.1 Mha. (Data adapted from Refs 22 and 65.)
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Modeled development of C stocks in a Norway spruce forest in south Sweden subject to three different management practices (described in the main text). The single stands are plotted behind the landscape averages in the foreground. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 53. Copyright 2011 Swedish Energy Agency.)
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