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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Biogas and Ethanol from Wheat Grain or Straw: Is There a Trade-Off between Climate Impact, Avoidance of iLUC and Production Cost?

Lantz, Mikael; Prade, Thomas; Ahlgren, Serina; Bjornsson, Lovisa


Current EU policy calls for decreased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by i.e., replacing fossil fuel in the transportation sector with sustainable biofuels. To avoid indirect land use change (iLUC), the EU at the same time strives to limit the use of crops and to increase the use of residues. In this study we compare climate impact and production cost for biogas and ethanol based on wheat grain and straw, respectively, in a Swedish context. The economic competitiveness for ethanol from straw vs. grain is evaluated based on the mandatory emission reduction for fossil vehicle fuels implemented since July 2018 in Sweden. The result of this study clearly shows that biogas and ethanol from straw have the lowest GHG emissions regardless of the calculation method used, although biofuels from grain also fulfill EU GHG reduction criteria even when suggested iLUC factors are included. It was also shown that the cost of producing straw-based biofuels was higher, thus there is a trade-off between climate impact and costs. The GHG reduction mandate adopted in Sweden partly compensates for this, but is not enough to make ethanol from straw competitive from an economic perspective.


biofuel; biogas; ethanol; wheat grain; wheat straw; climate impact; iLUC; economy; policy instruments

Published in

2018, Volume: 11, number: 10, article number: 2633
Publisher: MDPI

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
      SDG12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Renewable Bioenergy Research

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