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Supply assessment of forest biomass – A bottom-up approach for Sweden

Lundmark, Robert, Athanassiadis, Dimitris, Wetterlund, Elisabeth
Biomass and bioenergy 2015 v.75 pp. 213-226
bioenergy, biomass, cost estimates, energy, forests, geographic information systems, harvesting, issues and policy, markets, roundwood, stumps, subsidies, transportation, Sweden
As there is increasing interest in the use of biomass for energy in Sweden, the potential availability and harvesting costs of forest roundwood, harvesting residues and stumps were estimated up to the year 2069 in 10-year intervals, using a high spatial resolution GIS. In each individual forest area, an average harvesting cost per forest assortment was estimated, based on the geographic and other properties of the area. Using cost structure and resource availability, marginal cost curves were constructed to allow analyses of the effects of changing market conditions and different policy frameworks. Based on geographically explicit data, the results indicated that the average harvesting costs would be 21–24 € m−3 for roundwood, depending on the type of harvesting and extraction operation. The corresponding cost estimate for harvesting residues was 23–25 € m−3 and 35 € m−3 for stumps. The harvesting cost estimates lie on the steeper part of the marginal cost curve, suggesting that increases in the supply of woody biomass can only occur at significantly higher harvesting costs. From a policy perspective, this suggests that subsidies aimed at reducing the harvesting costs will only have limited success in increasing the harvested volumes, given current technology. Therefore, for future development in the supply of forest assortments for energy generation, it is important to consider not only the supply potential, but also the integration of improvements in harvesting and transportation systems.