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WIREs Energy Environ.
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The potential influence of sustainability criteria on the European Union pellets market—the example of Sweden

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The introduction of sustainability criteria for solid biomass/biofuels on the European Union (EU) or global level may influence the EU pellets market, e.g., by limiting the eligible biomass supply potential or specific pellet chains. This assessment focuses on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions and the issue of sustainable forest management (SFM) for pellets potentially used in Sweden (for residential and/or industrial use). The paper includes (1) a literature review of recent studies addressing the impact of sustainability requirements (for solid biomass and/or liquid biofuels) on the bioenergy market, (2) a characterization of SFM conditions in potential pellets export countries and their capacity to enforce respective legislation, and (3) an assessment of GHG emissions for heat and electricity for the Swedish market from selected potential wood pellet chains (including torrefaction) and related GHG emissions reduction compared to fossil fuels using a life cycle assessment perspective. Most of the assessed wood pellet value chains will most likely be able to meet stringent sustainability requirements from a GHG perspective. Thus, the impact of near‐term GHG emission reduction demands on the Swedish pellets market is limited. More specifically, we find that torrefaction may be advantageous for pellets imported over long distances (i.e., over approximately 18,500 km). We conclude that demand for SFM related to solid biofuels will not have a significant or long‐lasting effect on the market for Swedish pellets. The real impacts of sustainability requirements will however depend on levels of ambition as well as the methodologies and systems boundaries applied in future systems. WIREs Energy Environ 2016, 5:413–429. doi: 10.1002/wene.199 This article is categorized under: Bioenergy > Economics and Policy Bioenergy > Climate and Environment
Estimated total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission (g CO2‐eq/MJ pellets, left axis) and GHG emissions from the different productions steps of the studied pellet value chains. The estimated associated GHG emissions reduction compared to a reference a fossil fuel energy comparator for the produced heat and electricity are given as well (right axis). Large‐scale CHP is assumed as final use. The sum of GHG emissions of the pellet value chains is shown below the cases in g CO2‐eq/MJ pellets. ηth and ηel represent the thermal and electrical efficiency, respectively.
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Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings of the different pellet value chains for modern direct cofired power plants utilizing Best Available Technology (including emissions related to pulverization of pellets).
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Estimated total greenhouse gas (GHG) emission, including emissions due to pulverization for cofiring (g CO2‐eq/MJ pellets) from the different productions steps of the studied pellet value chains.
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Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings of the different pellets value chains for small and medium scale stand‐alone electricity generation at different electrical efficiencies.
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