BeWhere An f3 project

Optimal localisation of next generation biofuel production in Sweden

This project was carried out in two parts referred to as BeWhere I and BeWhere II. These were documented in two reports. The participants where the same except for IIASA and SLU that only participated in part I and part II respectively.

In 2014, the closely related f3 project BeWhere – Stakeholder analysis of biofuel production in Sweden started.

In order to reach competitive biofuel production costs, plants with large production capacities are likely to be required. Feedstock intake capacities in the range of about 1-2 million tonnes per year, corresponding to a biomass feed of 300-600 MW, can be expected. To enable expansion of biofuel production in such large plants, as well as provide for associated distribution requirements, it is clear that substantial infra-structure planning is needed. The geographical location of the production plant facilities is therefore of crucial importance and must be strategic to minimise the transports of raw material as well as of final product. Competition for the available feedstock, from for example forest industries and combined heat and power plants, further complicates the localisation problem.

Integration may be beneficial

Since the potential for an increased biomass utilisation is limited, high overall resource efficiency is of great importance. Integration of biofuel production processes in existing industries or in district heating systems may be beneficial from several aspects, such as opportunities for efficient heat integration, feedstock and equipment integration, as well as access to existing experience and know-how.

In the first part of the project, the BeWhere Sweden model was developed and preliminary model runs were conducted. At this stage, five biofuel production technologies were considered: three gasification-based concepts producing DME, and two hydrolysis- and fermentation-based concepts producing ethanol.

The model is a geographically explicit optimisation model for localisation of advanced biofuel production plants in Sweden. Important objectives were to implement robustness to varying boundary conditions, in particular regarding energy market prices, policy instruments, investment costs, feedstock competition and to allow integration possibilities with existing energy systems. The figure below shows an overview of the structure of BeWhere Sweden.

Northern Sweden was favoured by the model

In the preliminary model runs, biofuel production integrated in chemical pulp mills via black liquor gasification (BLG) was heavily favoured. The resulting total number of required production plants and the total biomass feedstock volumes to reach a certain biofuel share target were considerably lower when BLG is considered. Moreover, it was found that with targets set for Sweden overall, plant locations in the northern parts of Sweden were typically favoured, which resulted in saturation of local biofuel markets and no biofuel use in the southern parts. When biofuels needed to be distributed to all parts of Sweden, the model selected a more even distribution of production plants, with plants also in the southern parts. Due to longer total transport distances and non-optimal integration possibilities, the total resulting system cost was higher when all counties must fulfil the biofuel share target. The total annual cost to fulfil a certain biofuel target would also be considerably higher without BLG in the system, as would the total capital requirement.

  • The second part of the project, BeWhere II, had the primary objectives to.
  • Complete and improve model input data.
  • Execute the further developed model using the different model scenarios considered in BeWhere I.
  • Identify optimal biofuel production plant location robust to various boundary conditionsCarry out a broader analysis of the model results for the different scenarios regarding for example implications for policy makers and connections between different actors in the biofuel innovation system.

To address these objectives, the model was further developed by

  • Including additional industries and plant sites (CHP plants, oil refineries), as well as other production technologies and biofuel types (SNG, synthetic diesel).
  • Improved quality of crucial input data.
  • Improvement of the description of the potential amount, economics and the spatial distribution of the biomass feedstock.
  • Improved possibility to perform sensitivity analysis regarding a number of parameters related to e.g. industrial operation.

Graphical overview of the structure and main flows of BeWhere Sweden.

The roadmap scenarios developed in the first BeWhere-project were implemented and executed using the further developed model. The scenarios are based on scenarios presented by the Swedish Environment Protection Agency in the report “Basis for a roadmap for Sweden without greenhouse gas emissions in 2050”. In the construction of the roadmap scenarios, sector specific scenario modules were defined, e.g. development of transport demand, transport fuel demand, demand for next generation biofuels, available forest biomass resources, biomass available for industrial purposes and biomass usage in other industrial sectors.

The results show that the biofuel target can be realised in all modelled scenarios, using only domestic biomass resources for biofuel production, and by investment in new next generation biofuel plants (3-11 plants). This would however require a significant increase in the use of forest residues (harvesting residues and stumps), from the 14 TWh currently used annually, to 30-40 TWh/y (depending on biofuel target). This represents up to 80% of the techno-ecological potential.

Substantial investments needed

The total capital requirement to fulfill certain biofuel targets has been estimated based on the modeling results. The results show that these investment are substantial, ranging from 700-1600 M€ for the scenarios with low national biofuel target, to 1300-3300 M€ with higher targets. The results also show that attempting to reach regional goals would lead to higher capital requirement, as well as higher total costs to reach the nationally defined biofuel targets. It would also entail a need for more biofuel production plants and substantially longer transports.

The BeWhere Sweden model has the potential of being a valuable tool for simulation and analysis of the Swedish bioenergy system, including the industry and transport sectors. Today, concerned ministries and agencies base their analyses on results from e.g. the TIMES and EMEC models, but none of these consider the spatial distribution of feedstock, facilities and energy demands. Sweden is a widespread country with long transport distances where logistics and localisation of production plants are crucial for the overall efficiency. BeWhere Sweden considers this and may contribute with valuable input that can be used to complement and validate results from more aggregated energy systems models; thus testing the feasibility and implementation ability of these model results. This can be of value for different biofuel production stakeholders as well as for government and policy makers.

Project information

Project period


Participants (BeWhere I-II)

  • Linköping University: Elisabeth Wetterlund
  • Chalmers University of Technology: Karin Pettersson
  • SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden: Johanna Mossberg & Johan Torén
  • Innventia: Christian Hoffstedt, Anna von Schenck & Niklas Berglin
  • Bio4Energy (Luleå University of Technology): Robert Lundmark & Joakim Lundgren
  • International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, Austria): Sylvain Leduc & Georg Kindermann
  • SLU Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences: Dimitris Athanassiadis