Current EU policy calls for decreased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by i.e., replacing fossil fuel in the transportation sector with sustainable biofuels. To avoid indirect land use change (iLUC), the EU at the same time strives to limit the use of crops and to increase the use of residues.

A newly published article, produced within the project Biofuels from biomass from agricultural land – land use change from a Swedish perspective (carried out as part of the Swedish Energy Agency and f3 collaborative research program Renewable transportation fuels and systems), compares climate impact and production cost for biogas and ethanol based on wheat grain and straw, respectively, in a Swedish context. The economic competitiveness for ethanol from straw vs. grain is evaluated based on the mandatory emission reduction for fossil vehicle fuels implemented since July 2018 in Sweden.

The result of the study clearly shows that biogas and ethanol from straw have the lowest GHG emissions regardless of the calculation method used, although biofuels from grain also fulfill EU GHG reduction criteria even when suggested iLUC factors are included. It was also shown that the cost of producing straw-based biofuels was higher, thus there is a trade-off between climate impact and costs. The GHG reduction mandate adopted in Sweden partly compensates for this, but is not enough to make ethanol from straw competitive from an economic perspective.

The article has open access and is linked from the project site.

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