Tensions in the energy transition: Swedish and Finnish company perspectives on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage
Authors: Emily Rodriguez, Adrian Lefvert, Mathias Fridahl, Stefan Grönkvist, Simon Haikola, and Anders Hansson
Rodriguez, E., Lefvert, A., Fridahl, M., Grönkvist, S., Haikola, S. and Hansson, A., 2021. ‘Tensions in the energy transition: Swedish and Finnish company perspectives on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage’, J. Clean. Prod., 280. 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.124527
Sweden and Finland have national goals to reach net negative greenhouse gas emissions before mid-century. Achieving these ambitious goals could employ negative emission technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, but it is unclear how this technology could be realized in an energy transition. Sweden and Finland stand out for having a large share of substantial point source emissions of biogenic carbon dioxide, in the production of pulp, heat and power. In the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register, Sweden and Finland reported 64% and 51% biogenic emissions, respectively, in facilities emitting over 100 kt of carbon dioxide in 2017, while the corresponding collective figure for all European states in the database is 6%. This qualitative study highlights company actors’ perspectives on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage within a Nordic regional context and explores their perspective on emerging tensions in the energy transition. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 of the 24 companies with the largest point sources of biogenic emissions. The results are framed around four emerging tensions regarding bioenergy with carbon capture and storage from companies’ perspectives in this study: (1) absence of reliable long-term policies; (2) limits to companies’ climate change responsibility; (3) technical trade-offs of carbon capture; and (4) lack of customer demands for negative emissions. According to most of the companies, it is technically feasible to capture carbon dioxide, but it could be a challenge to determine who is responsible to create a financially viable business case, to enact supporting policies, and to build transport and storage infrastructure. Company representatives argue that they already contribute to a sustainable society, therefore bioenergy with carbon capture and storage is not their priority without government collaboration. However, they are willing to contribute more and could have an increasing role towards an energy transition in an international context.