A survey about biomass vlaue conducted and published by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences showed promising market perceptions.
The new study was funded by the Swedish Energy Agency and based on data provided mainly from responses to a survey and from Nordic energy/assortment price statistics. However, the conditions for forestry business as well as for the lignocellulosic biorefinery industry are quite alike in other boreal regions. Also, the markets for energy and wood assortments are becoming more related across international boundaries, so these results may be applicable to other regions as well.
- The article (free abstract is available here)
- 95% of respondents to the survey believe that wood biomass value will increase
- Electricity has the highest investment potential, then bioenergy assortments and textiles
- Confidence, currently greater in solid fuel products, is growing for chemicals
- The capacity to pay for wood chips has already reached that of pulpwood
- Electricity price is an important driver of the value of biomass raw material
The Swedish electricity and wood fuel price changes were found to be correlated which indicates that the electricity price is a key factor determining the price of biomass raw material. Thus, the value of a particular biorefinery product must exceed the value of the same unit of biomass being used for bioenergy instead, which requires new ways of thinking within the forestry and chemical industries.
Of the respondents to the survey, 95% believed that the value of woody biomass will increase within ten years and the highest unutilized potential was considered to be found in the stemwood.
Different species are preferred as shown in the figure (see on the right). Short rotation coppice for example with broadleaf (e.g. poplar, willows or eucalyptus) are considered already and there is a large share in the market that just don’t care much about the sepcies.
Investment potentials of biorefinery products were anticipated to be greater over a ten year perspective compared to a five year perspective, while the opposite was thought for pulp and paper.
Since the most promising biorefinery products were considered to be compatible with existing lignocellulose-based production chains, large-scale commercial production seems possible in the future.
An increased demand for tree biomass together with the broad spectrum of value-added products will most likely mean that the economic incentive to harvest biomass from forest stands will increase. Therefore, adoption of new profitable silvicultural approaches might be needed in long-term silvicultural planning systems.
However, political as well as silvicultural support tools seem crucial for further commitments and investments within the lignocellulosic biorefinery industry.