The transport sector is among the largest contributors to global emissions, and, without substantial mitigation policies, transport emissions are predicted to increase faster than those from any other sector. The primary objective of BIOPATH is to explore the interactions between future biofuel pathways, land transitions, biofuel potentials and regional climate change mitigation, thereby offering novel science-based evidence to advance assessment frameworks of biofuel systems. BIOPATH will quantify the regional climate change mitigation potential and effects of future biofuel pathways in Norway and Europe, assess the associated land transitions and value chain impacts, and improve our understanding of relevant land-atmosphere interactions. The ultimate goal is to facilitate the identification of win-win land management and biofuel strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The project will also assess the public perception of biofuels in Norway and the role of policies for the implementation of the most promising strategies.
BIOPATH has processed global and regional datasets of land cover and land cover changes to produce a dynamic model that can simulate gridded land use scenarios. This has been integrated with forest harvest models and agro-ecological yield models to estimate bioenergy potentials and connect resource supply with biofuel demands according to national and international policies and targets. Specific emission inventories of biofuel production technologies have been produced for different types of biomass feedstocks and biofuel types. Feedstocks include forest residues, agricultural residues, and perennial grasses from abandoned or degraded cropland. Different biofuel technologies are considered, either with or without carbon capture and storage (CCS), and biofuels target road, aviation, and shipping applications. The data are coupled to Life-Cycle Assessment approaches to assess existing and future biofuel demands from the transport sector across spatial and temporal scales in Norway and Europe.
Research activities have produced novel work that is of relevance to understand the regional supply and mitigation potential of biofuels in Norway and Europe. A study assessed the role of biofuels from nationally available forest residues in the Norwegian road transport sector under high electrification rates of the vehicle fleet. Results show that biofuels can still contribute to climate change mitigation relative to a no-biofuel scenario, with a peak in mitigation around 2030. This is primarily due to the use of biofuels in internal combustion engine vehicles that will still be around for a couple of decades, and in segments of the transport sector for which the penetration of battery-based mobility is lower (e.g., busses and trucks). Another study assessed the climate change mitigation potential in Norway and Europe of biofuels from forest and agricultural residues for decarbonizing the deep-sea shipping sector. Results show the conditions by which the climate change mitigation benefits are maximized, and the life-cycle emission projections up to 2050 under alternative policy scenarios. Novel insights on the regional energy supply and mitigation benefits are also gathered from a new analysis that considered cultivation of perennial grasses as energy crops on abandoned and degraded cropland in Nordic countries. The project is also developing improved parameterization of biofuel crops in regional climate models to better identify synergies between biofuel deployment, land management, and the local climate.
More information about the results of this project, the data, and the publications are available by contacting the Principal Investigator.
The transport sector is among the largest contributors to global emissions, and, without implementation of substantial mitigation policies, transport emissions will increase faster than those from any other sector. Authorities across the world are setting targets for sustainable biofuels, and scenarios aiming at stringent mitigation predict to achieve up to 40% of biofuels in the global transport fuel use by 2100. This will imply a significant transition in our society, with challenges, opportunities, and unexplored potential implications. Currently, little information exists on the regional climate dimension of this transition, despite the evidence that biofuel pathways can shape regional climate, by increasing or dampening local temperature, precipitation, or extreme events. Regional implications are particularly important as they address the relevant scale for ecosystems and society, and the scale at which most decisions are made. There are opportunities for potential positive synergies between policies for biofuel deployment and land management for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The ambition of BIOPATH is to fill this research gap by integrating cross-disciplinary elements of energy, environmental, climate, and social sciences. The project will advance analysis of biofuel pathways with regional climate metrics and assess existing biofuel targets in Norway and at a larger scale, and it will offer novel findings to improve the design of integrated strategies. BIOPATH will:
- Assess and review pathways for biofuels under existing and future targets, with the associated implications for resource use and land transitions.
- Quantify the regional climate change effects involved in the biofuel pathways.
- Assess and advance approaches to study the climate footprint of biofuel pathways with regional climate implications.
- Assess the public perception of biofuels in Norway and the role of policies for the implementation of win-win biofuel strategies.