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In the Spotlight: Teresa de la Fuente

Oct 24, 2014

Teresa works at Skogforsk, the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden in Umeå.

The topic of your research project is “System analysis of forest feedstock supply chains with extended biofuel production”. You’ve been working on it for some months now – how is your work progressing? What do you plan to do/cover over the next 6 months?

This study investigates the effects of developing a regional traditional forest wood chain setting into a structure with extended biofuel procurement and production applying a life cycle perspective.

The aim of the first part of the project was to assess the costs and energy use associated with forest supply chains that integrate the harvest of residue assortments into the stemwood supply chain and compare those to present conventional system. The modelled systems were applied to three locations suitable for biorefineries in Northern Sweden using geographically explicit forest inventory data.

In collaboration with SLU researchers and Processum we modelled cost and energy use of conventional and innovative systems. With these calculations we obtained supply cost and energy curves for conventional and novel assortments from the forest to the potential biorefineries.

The results of this study indicates that there is a potential for decreasing the supply cost of forest biomass by using integrated harvest of stemwood and residual assortments while the energy use is similar or slightly lower. The reductions are more pronounced when the final product is chipped biomass and no difference is made between stemwood and residues.

From this work I expect to publish the following article: “Integrated supply of stemwood and residual biomass to forest-based biorefineries”

However, cost and energy analysis is not enough to understand the implications that forest wood chains with extended biofuel production could have on forest ecosystems and forest management in Northern Sweden. This is the reason why in the next phase of the project I will apply life cycle assessment methodology in order to identify and compare environmental impacts of the systems presented previously.

Why did this exact topic interest you?

I firmly believe that forests and forestry have an important role to play in the sustainable bioeconomy. In Sweden an increase in demand of forest biomass for the bioenergy market is expected. This could contribute to replace non-renewable energy and mitigate climate change, however this increase of biomass extraction for bioenergy could affect sustainability of forest ecosystems, forest management and industry. Therefore it is essential to analyse the impacts of new forest supply chains with extended biofuel procurement and production and compare them to the conventional supply chains.

What would you like to do after the CASTLE project has finished?

First I want to finish my PhD and afterwards I would like to contribute to develop a sustainable use of forest resources in developed and developing countries working in academia, industry or governmental institutions.

What are your thoughts on the CASTLE project so far, and the training courses in particular?

Being part of CASTLE is not only doing a PhD or conduct a research, it gives me a more international perspective in my studies. The training courses are an excellent way of knowing other institutions and researchers working in similar issues in other countries, and of course it is a good way to interact and maybe establish future collaborations with the CASTLE members.