Sweden aims to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 70% until 2030 and from 2045, have zero net emissions. Therefore, a truly renewable Swedish energy system needs to be developed based on a reliable, efficient, competitive, and environmentally friendly energy supply with no net emissions of greenhouse gases.
Bioenergy/biomass conversion processes play an essential role in this energy system as they can contribute to an efficient and potentially competitive (co-)production of high-value material and energy products for society. Several biomass conversion routes are flexible with respect to both raw materials and products, where assortments unsuitable for fiber and timber extraction can be valorized to high-value products such as materials, chemicals, biofuels, heat, and power.
Forests play a key role in breaking free from society’s dependency on fossil fuels. However, escalating problems associated with the health of Norway spruce and Scots pine forests has caused significant biomass loss due to pest-induced mortality in large parts of northern Europe. In Sweden, it is rather critical for the forest industry and bio-energy sector as these two tree species dominate the landscape, making up more than 80% of the volume on productive land. Clearly, a shift toward more diversification of tree species is needed to ensure the future biomass and ensure stability, resilience and sustainability in forest ecosystems.
The ‘low-hanging fruit’ in this shift is to utilize the fast-growing broadleaved species: silver birch, aspen, poplar and hybrid aspen. Apart from the benefits on forest ecosystems, their significantly shorter carbon cycles also enhance the contribution of biomass to build a sustainable energy system in the short term.
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