Global warming potential factors and warming payback time as climate indicators of forest biomass use

Kim Pingoud (Corresponding Author), Tommi Ekholm, Ilkka Savolainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A method is presented for estimating the global warming impact of forest biomass life cycles with respect to their functionally equivalent alternatives based on fossil fuels and non-renewable material sources. In the method, absolute global warming potentials (AGWP) of both the temporary carbon (C) debt of forest biomass stock and the C credit of the biomass use cycle displacing the fossil and non-renewable alternative are estimated as a function of the time frame of climate change mitigation. Dimensionless global warming potential (GWP) factors, GWPbio and GWPbiouse, are derived. As numerical examples, 1) bioenergy from boreal forest harvest residues to displace fossil fuels and 2) the use of wood for material substitution are considered. The GWP-based indicator leads to longer payback times, i.e. the time frame needed for the biomass option to be superior to its fossil-based alternative, than when just the cumulative balance of biogenic and fossil C stocks is considered. The warming payback time increases substantially with the residue diameter and low displacement factor (DF) of fossil C emissions. For the 35-cm stumps, the payback time appears to be more than 100 years in the climate conditions of Southern Finland when DF is lower than 0.5 in instant use and lower than 0.6 in continuous stump use. Wood use for construction appears to be more beneficial because, in addition to displaced emissions due to by-product bioenergy and material substitution, a significant part of round wood is sequestered into wood products for a long period, and even a zero payback time would be attainable with reasonable DFs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-386
JournalMitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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global warming
warming
biomass
climate
fossil
bioenergy
fossil fuel
substitution
debt
climate conditions
boreal forest
indicator
life cycle
carbon
material
method

Keywords

  • Forest biomass
  • bioenergy
  • wood products
  • climate impacts
  • GWP factors
  • biogenic C dept
  • displacement of fossil GHG emissions
  • material substitution
  • pulse response model

Cite this

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title = "Global warming potential factors and warming payback time as climate indicators of forest biomass use",
abstract = "A method is presented for estimating the global warming impact of forest biomass life cycles with respect to their functionally equivalent alternatives based on fossil fuels and non-renewable material sources. In the method, absolute global warming potentials (AGWP) of both the temporary carbon (C) debt of forest biomass stock and the C credit of the biomass use cycle displacing the fossil and non-renewable alternative are estimated as a function of the time frame of climate change mitigation. Dimensionless global warming potential (GWP) factors, GWPbio and GWPbiouse, are derived. As numerical examples, 1) bioenergy from boreal forest harvest residues to displace fossil fuels and 2) the use of wood for material substitution are considered. The GWP-based indicator leads to longer payback times, i.e. the time frame needed for the biomass option to be superior to its fossil-based alternative, than when just the cumulative balance of biogenic and fossil C stocks is considered. The warming payback time increases substantially with the residue diameter and low displacement factor (DF) of fossil C emissions. For the 35-cm stumps, the payback time appears to be more than 100 years in the climate conditions of Southern Finland when DF is lower than 0.5 in instant use and lower than 0.6 in continuous stump use. Wood use for construction appears to be more beneficial because, in addition to displaced emissions due to by-product bioenergy and material substitution, a significant part of round wood is sequestered into wood products for a long period, and even a zero payback time would be attainable with reasonable DFs.",
keywords = "Forest biomass, bioenergy, wood products, climate impacts, GWP factors, biogenic C dept, displacement of fossil GHG emissions, material substitution, pulse response model",
author = "Kim Pingoud and Tommi Ekholm and Ilkka Savolainen",
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Global warming potential factors and warming payback time as climate indicators of forest biomass use. / Pingoud, Kim (Corresponding Author); Ekholm, Tommi; Savolainen, Ilkka.

In: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Vol. 17, No. 4, 2012, p. 369-386.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Global warming potential factors and warming payback time as climate indicators of forest biomass use

AU - Pingoud, Kim

AU - Ekholm, Tommi

AU - Savolainen, Ilkka

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - A method is presented for estimating the global warming impact of forest biomass life cycles with respect to their functionally equivalent alternatives based on fossil fuels and non-renewable material sources. In the method, absolute global warming potentials (AGWP) of both the temporary carbon (C) debt of forest biomass stock and the C credit of the biomass use cycle displacing the fossil and non-renewable alternative are estimated as a function of the time frame of climate change mitigation. Dimensionless global warming potential (GWP) factors, GWPbio and GWPbiouse, are derived. As numerical examples, 1) bioenergy from boreal forest harvest residues to displace fossil fuels and 2) the use of wood for material substitution are considered. The GWP-based indicator leads to longer payback times, i.e. the time frame needed for the biomass option to be superior to its fossil-based alternative, than when just the cumulative balance of biogenic and fossil C stocks is considered. The warming payback time increases substantially with the residue diameter and low displacement factor (DF) of fossil C emissions. For the 35-cm stumps, the payback time appears to be more than 100 years in the climate conditions of Southern Finland when DF is lower than 0.5 in instant use and lower than 0.6 in continuous stump use. Wood use for construction appears to be more beneficial because, in addition to displaced emissions due to by-product bioenergy and material substitution, a significant part of round wood is sequestered into wood products for a long period, and even a zero payback time would be attainable with reasonable DFs.

AB - A method is presented for estimating the global warming impact of forest biomass life cycles with respect to their functionally equivalent alternatives based on fossil fuels and non-renewable material sources. In the method, absolute global warming potentials (AGWP) of both the temporary carbon (C) debt of forest biomass stock and the C credit of the biomass use cycle displacing the fossil and non-renewable alternative are estimated as a function of the time frame of climate change mitigation. Dimensionless global warming potential (GWP) factors, GWPbio and GWPbiouse, are derived. As numerical examples, 1) bioenergy from boreal forest harvest residues to displace fossil fuels and 2) the use of wood for material substitution are considered. The GWP-based indicator leads to longer payback times, i.e. the time frame needed for the biomass option to be superior to its fossil-based alternative, than when just the cumulative balance of biogenic and fossil C stocks is considered. The warming payback time increases substantially with the residue diameter and low displacement factor (DF) of fossil C emissions. For the 35-cm stumps, the payback time appears to be more than 100 years in the climate conditions of Southern Finland when DF is lower than 0.5 in instant use and lower than 0.6 in continuous stump use. Wood use for construction appears to be more beneficial because, in addition to displaced emissions due to by-product bioenergy and material substitution, a significant part of round wood is sequestered into wood products for a long period, and even a zero payback time would be attainable with reasonable DFs.

KW - Forest biomass

KW - bioenergy

KW - wood products

KW - climate impacts

KW - GWP factors

KW - biogenic C dept

KW - displacement of fossil GHG emissions

KW - material substitution

KW - pulse response model

U2 - 10.1007/s11027-011-9331-9

DO - 10.1007/s11027-011-9331-9

M3 - Article

VL - 17

SP - 369

EP - 386

JO - Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

JF - Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change

SN - 1381-2386

IS - 4

ER -