About the project

To ensure that biofuels are produced sustainably, an increasing body of scientific literature has become available in recent years focusing on the environmental sustainability of biofuels, often using environmental systems analysis (ESA) approaches such as life cycle assessments. However, these studies only address some of potential environmental impact categories.

This study aims to review and compare the state-of-the-art in environmental systems analyses of biofuel production systems, internationally and in Sweden. This is done in order to determine how studies have portrayed the potential environmental impacts of biofuel production pathways. Furthermore, this study identifies the scope of environmental impact categories considered, if there is a focus on a narrow set of environmental impact categories, and if there is, why this may exist.

A systematic literature review has been conducted to identify the most relevant environmental systems analyses of biofuels in Swedish research between 2000 and 2014. From the articles, information on ESA approaches used, goals, impact categories, methods, biofuels analysed and other relevant information was compiled.

The results indicate that there is a pronounced focus on GHG emission related impacts. However, this focus has not inhibited other impact categories from being investigated in the environmental assessment of biofuels, which is consistent with international research on the environmental assessment of biofuels, characterised by a dominant focus on GHG emissions and energy use.

The narrow focus in environmental impact categories is discussed in terms of study dependent variables (for example goal of the study, methods, and data uncertainty and availability) and the influence of the dominant science-policy framework in Sweden. Whilst biofuel production is inextricably linked to climate policy, one should not forget that the broader context of the Swedish environmental objectives should also be taken into consideration when developing biofuel production systems in Sweden.


Michael Martin, IVL


Mathias Larsson, IVL // David Lazarevic, KTH // Graham Aid, Linköping University

Time plan
September 2014 - September 2015

Total project cost
248 572 SEK

The f3 partners, IVL, KTH and Linköping University