Utilization of Forest Residue through Combined Heat and Power or Biorefinery for Applications in the Swedish Transportation Sector : a comparison in efficiency, emissions, economics and end usage

University essay from KTH/Kraft- och värmeteknologi; KTH/Kraft- och värmeteknologi

Abstract: Sweden has the goal of reaching a fossil independent transportation sector by 2030. Two ways to reach the goal is to increase the use of electric vehicles or produce more biofuels. Both alternatives could be powered by forest residue, which is an underutilized resource in the country. Electricity could be produced in a biomass fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant, and biofuel could be produced in a biorefinery through gasification of biomass and Fischer-Tropsch process. When located in Stockholm County, both system can also distribute heat to the district heating system. It is however important to use the biomass in an energy-efficient way. The scope of this work has been to analyze the efficiency together with environmental and economic aspects of the two systems.  To assess the efficiency and environmental impact of the two systems a forest to wheel study was made of the systems where the product was studied from harvesting of forest residue to driving the vehicle. The studied functional units were: kilometers driven by vehicle, kWh of district heating, CO2-equivalents of greenhouse gases and MWh of forest residue. The system using CHP technology and electric vehicles outperformed the biorefinery system on the two first functional units. Using the same amount of forest residue more than twice as much district heating and almost twice as many driven kilometers were produced in this system. The study also showed that both systems avoids significant greenhouse gas emissions and can be part of the solution to decrease emissions from road transportation.  The profitability of investing in a CHP plant or a biorefinery was calculated through the net present value method. It showed that the expected energy prices are too low for the investments to be profitable. The CHP plant investment has a net present value of -1.6 billion SEK and the biorefinery investment has a net present value of -4.6 billion SEK. Furthermore, the biorefinery investment entails higher risk due to the high investment cost and uncommercialized technology. Both systems face barriers for implementation, these barriers have been studied qualitatively. 

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