High demands on carbon dioxide reduction

The researchers assume that in 2040 there will be a requirement for 80 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions from the EU’s energy and transport system than the 1990 level, and that the requirement in 2060 will be 105 percent, i.e. negative emissions corresponding to 5 percent of the emissions for 1990.

It is assumed that carbon dioxide capture and storage is integrated with biomass use for power and industrial heat, and with biofuel production. Liquid biofuel from solid biomass is assumed to be based on residual products from the forest industry and produced via the Fischer Tropsch process.

The results of the model then show that cost-effective system solutions that reach the emission targets for the year 2040 may mean that the need for liquid fuels for the transport sector is still based on fossil raw materials. For 2060, the emissions target will be reached with the help of electrofuels and by compensating the use of fossil-based liquid fuels via negative emissions.

A cost perspective

Requirements for 20 percent mixing of biofuels in liquid fuels can increase the total energy system cost by 2-14 percent in 2040 (10-66 billion Euro). In 2060, 50 percent involvement would increase the cost by 4-8 percent (18-40 billion Euros).

– These are no small sums when you consider that all vehicle fuel in the EU in 2018 cost 280 billion euros, says Chalmers researcher Lina Reichenberg, who participated in the study.

This can be the effect at the system level if the availability of domestic biomass is limited and one is referred to importing more expensive biomass. The costs will then be higher than if the biomass is used for industrial heat and cogeneration.

The system becomes more flexible and less vulnerable if there is access to more different and more cost-effective technologies for converting biomass and if we can broaden access to bio-based raw materials. A complementary way is to develop flexible biorefineries that can adjust their production to respond to market needs. Then it is also easier to avoid lock-in effects.