Future demand for forest-based biomass for energy purposes in Sweden

The assessment is based on a review of scenarios and predictions of how the Swedish energy system may develop, taking into account techno-economical conditions. It includes potential changes in district heating, electricity production in combined heat and power plants, industrial process energy, and production of biofuel for road transportation. In addition, the potential demand for forest-based feedstock in the chemical and petrochemical sector, replacing current use of fossil feedstock, is analysed. The assessment suggests that Sweden may see an additional demand for forest fuels at about 30 TW h in 2030 and 35–40 TW h in 2050.

This can be compared with the current use of biomass for energy in Sweden at 130 TW h per year, and the estimated potential increase of sustainable harvest of logging residues (slash and stumps) at some additional 20 TW h per year, based on current conditions. If also potential demand for forest-based feedstock in the chemical and petrochemical industry is included, another 10–15 and 25–30 TW h of biomass per year may be needed in 2030 and 2050, respectively. The future demand is sensitive to the pace and magnitude of energy efficiency improvements and electrification in the various sectors. If far-reaching energy efficiency improvements and electrification are realised, the total additional demand for biomass as energy and industry feedstock may be about 20 and 30 TW h per year in 2030 and 2050, respectively, thus roughly corresponding to the sustainable harvests of logging residues. If, however, efficiency improvements and electrification are only marginal, then the additional demand for biomass as industry and energy feedstock may reach 70 TW h and 100 TW h per year in 2030 and 2050, respectively.

In these cases, the use of logging residues will not suffice and additional biomass would be needed. A combination of regulations and incentives is recommended to accelerate the fuel and feedstock switch, especially in the transportation and industrial sectors, and incentives promoting a substantial improvement in energy efficiency and electrification in all sectors.

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Last updated: 2021-06-24

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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