Development of a competitive bioenergy industry

In general, public spending on R&D aims at creating or maintaining favorable conditions for the development of a competitive industry. Investments in bioenergy know-how are no different. A major argument for being a forerunner in the devel­opment and use of bioenergy technologies is that this will foster the accumulation of know-how, and support a competitive industry. Huge markets are being envisaged internationally. In addition to Europe and North America, China, India and other parts of Asia and South America are often discussed as major markets for bioenergy technology and know-how.

Thus trade related to the bioenergy sector includes equipment, know-how and fuels. Equipment available for export from Sweden today includes pellet burners and forest fuel harvesting equipment. The know-how can be provided through con­sultancy related to biomass gasification and forest fuel logistics. The exports related to equipment and know-how are more at hand than different types of biofuels. However, some upgraded biofuels may be exported from Sweden in the long term. In general, development towards more diversified trade is observed, with countries importing some biofuels and exporting others depending on where the country has its competitive edge.

Parallel to the trade evolving between industrialized countries, an interest­ing window of opportunity has opened for export to emerging developing coun­tries. Favorable conditions in that context are observed in countries like China, India, Brazil and Chile. Environmental issues, particularly related to C02 emissions, are also contributing to foster these new markets for bioenergy technologies and services. At the same time, tropical countries with large availability of land can become important producers of biofuels for an international market.

In addition to the goal to develop a competitive bioenergy industry, there is the need to promote regional development and guarantee the security of energy supply. Bioenergy investments are suitable to promote regional development, not least because the biomass production is per definition geographically spread out. The rationale of the regional development dimension can be explained in two basic ways at the macrolevel.

• Bioenergy is to a large extent used in urban areas but produced in nonurban areas around the country. The increased use of bioenergy will allocate resources from urban areas for investment in rural areas where jobs will be created. These resources would otherwise be transferred to other regions abroad i. e. to pay for fossil fuels.

• Increased use of bioenergy will increase the value of the biomass that is produced throughout the country, mainly in the form of forest residues and by­products from the forest industry sector. These resources will generate value to various regions of the country, allowing distribution of the gains.

When it comes to measures to foster the development of a competitive bioenergy industry, we can single out three major strategies for Sweden.

• Project clusters

On an international market for bioenergy systems including biofuels, equipment and know-how, it is crucial to be able to rely on a critical mass of resources and knowledge. The challenge is to facilitate the creation of competitive bioenergy industrial clusters with significant Swedish participation.

• System integration

There is a great potential for further development of bioenergy through better integration with the forest industry, waste management etc. The challenge lies in the development of the integrated systems as in the example of Enkoping (Fact box 3.1).

• Development of businesses along with bioenergy know-how development Public-funded bioenergy projects have not delivered as many new products, and fostered as many new companies as was hoped for. The challenge lies in trying to develop a business environment capable of defining bioenergy products and services that can generate more economic returns.

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