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Activities and results of the task 3.1 - Development of criteria for sustainable production of bioenergy


Work package 3 - Sustainability criteria

Jul 01, 2011

Activities and results of the task 3.1 - Development of criteria for sustainable production of bioenergy

Picture: Arto Mutikainen

This task is led by the Swedish Board of Agriculture and focuses on the formulation of principles and criteria for a sustainable production of bioenergy. To this purpose, two workshops and one cross-fertilization seminar were held in Sweden and Finland.

The principles cover concerns related to biodiversity, resource efficiency, energy efficiency, climate efficiency, social and economic aspects. Each principle is followed by some criteria that, if they are fulfilled, will lead towards the objective formulated in the principle. The criteria are formulated as to directly address identified threats generated by bioenergy production and we also suggest indicators for evaluating whether or not objectives are reached.

The principles, criteria and indicators are formulated in a guidance document which was published on the Bioenergy Promotion website in June 2010 (cf. Lena Niemi Hjulfors and Karin Hjerpe: Sustainable Bioenergy Production – Defining Principles and Criteria). This guidance document has served as an important input for several other work packages and for the project as a whole and it can also be used by stakeholders within bioenergy production for the development of ecological and socioeconomic sustainable activities.

Task 3.1 Supplementary activity: Report Environmental influences of small-scale use of fuelwood in Finland - Preliminary life cycle observations

In addition to the core activities under Task 3.1 described above, an exemplary lifecycle analysis has been prepared investigating the GHG effects of using fuel wood in Finland. The respective report “ Environmental influences of small-scale use of fuelwood in Finland    - Preliminary life cycle observations”

was prepared by Jukka Torvelainen from the Finnish Forest Research Institute under the work plan of the Forestry Development Centre Tapio being one of the 33 project partners. The report takes into account proposals and recommendations of other committed project partners of Bioenergy Promotion.

 

The study can be regarded as a contribution to the EU Commission’s recommendation that Member States shall monitor the effects of biomass use on the areas of origin and to monitor small-scale biomass use through surveys to improve the availability and quality of data (cf. EU COM Report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid and gaseous biomass sources in electricity, heating and cooling in February 2010 COM(2010)11). In this specific bioenergy sub-sector there is less information available and research results are scarce compared to the large use of forest resources for energy.

 

The study is based on a preliminary Life Cycle Assessment methodology and demonstrates its applicability in this field of research. It has a focus on lifecycle GHG emissions. The findings, however, provide only rough guidance how to approach the question because of the limited data availability.

 

The main findings of this supplementary activity are as follows:

•    When fuelwood is treated as CO2-neutral, greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from fuelwood heating in agricultural buildings total only 3–5%, and in residential buildings only 10–14% of the emissions from light fuel oil or electricity heating. In these figures, the quite low energy conversion efficiency of small-scale combustion has been taken into consideration.

•    In old or inefficient equipment, emissions of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and non-methane volatile organic compounds can also be significantly high. It is advisable to use high-quality fuelwood, good operation practices and modern technology in combustion in order to achieve the best efficiency and avoid air quality problems caused by high emission levels.

•    Forest owners and consumers are increasingly interested in the sustainability of their life and choices, which includes interest in the environmental impacts of fuelwood, too.

•    There is much information available concerning e.g. the quality of fuelwood and good operational practice. However, the environmental effects of the upstream processes are known insufficiently to produce clear recommendations for the entire life cycle of fuelwood.

•    There is clear need for the creation of some kind of “fuelwood carbon footprint counter” in which the user can fill in relevant information concerning his/her acquisition procedures and working methods. The main justification for this counter is that consumers and forest owners are increasingly interested in the sustainability of their life and choices, also with reference to the use of energy. This also matches the recommendations of the EU Commission.

 

The report “Environmental influences of small-scale use of fuelwood in Finland    - Preliminary life cycle observations” is available both on the Bioenergy Promotion website and on Forestry Development Centre Tapios website

.