Safer investments in biofuel

Published: 28 May 2013

A new way to figure out where it is most profitable to invest in facilities for the production of biofuels will help biofuel producers, politicians and others to make Sweden fossil fuel independence.

Joakim Lundgren, researchers in energy science at Luleå University of Technology, is leading a project with the aim to developing a computational model to find where it is most cost effective to locate the production of biofuels.

- Our model takes into consideration where in the country the biomass and industries where fuel production can potentially be integrated, is located, he says. The model can also determine the appropriate procuction capacities. Transport and the ability to find a market for by-products such as heating, are crucial for localization.

In the model named BeWhere Sweden  various future energy scenarios are tested.. By varying parameters such as political decisions, increased competition for biomass, fuel prices, cost of emissions, heatand access to appropriate production, transportation, etc. the total investment required is estimated.

- Large-scale production of biofuels in the forest or near the raw material is hardly profitable. Instead, it's all about integrating production in existing industries like paper - and paper mills, district heating plants, steel mills and petroleum refineries. By modeling a large number of scenarios in BeWhere, sustainable and cost-effective investments in production can be identified, says Joakim Lundgren. Our model is complementary to the models used today. By taking into account regional differences, we can provide better basis for any investment to businesses, politicians and agencies.

The project also involved researchers at the university, Economics, Linköping University, Chalmers, Innventia, SP and IIASA in Austria. The project is financed by Swedish Knowledge Centre for Renewable Transportation Fuels, f3.

Energy engineering