Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Time-Dependent Climate Impact and Energy Efficiency of Internationally Traded Non-torrefied and Torrefied Wood Pellets from Logging Residues

Porso, Charlotta; Hammar, Torun; Nilsson, Daniel; Hansson, Per-Anders


Demand for wood pellets as a renewable alternative to fossil fuels has increased in the past decade. However, production and use of wood pellets involves several operations (biomass extraction, chipping, transport, drying, milling, pelleting, combustion) with negative impacts on e.g. the climate. In this study, the energy efficiency and climate impact of production and use of non-torrefied and torrefied wood pellets were analysed and compared. The wood pellets, produced from logging residues extracted from a boreal coniferous forest stand (Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst)) in northern Sweden, were assumed to be exported and finally used in a power plant. Time-dependent life cycle assessment, expressing the climate impact as global temperature change over time, was used to include annual greenhouse gas fluxes of both fossil and biogenic origin. The results showed that carbon stock changes due to extraction of logging residues contributed most of the warming effect on global temperature. Due to greater demand for raw material, a higher warming impact per gigajoule fuel was obtained for torrefied wood pellets than for non-torrefied wood pellets. However, torrefied wood pellets demonstrated a lower climate impact (per GJ electricity) when advantages such as higher electrical energy efficiency and higher co-firing rate were included. A general conclusion from this study is that replacing coal with non-torrefied or torrefied wood pellets made from logging residues can mitigate climate change. The energy output of these systems was about sevenfold the primary energy input.


Life cycle assessment; LCA; Global warming; Time-dependent climate impact; Biogenic carbon; Torrefied wood pellets

Published in

BioEnergy Research
2018, Volume: 11, number: 1, pages: 139-151