A1 Journal article (refereed), original research

Lifecycle Assessment of Biomass Supply Chain with the Assistance of Agent-Based Modelling

Open Access publication

Publication Details
Authors: KC Raghu, Aalto Mika, Korpinen Olli-Jussi, Ranta Tapio, Proskurina Svetlana
Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert
Publication year: 2020
Language: English
Related Journal or Series Information: Sustainability: the journal of record
Volume number: 12
Issue number: 5
ISSN: 1937-0695
eISSN: 1937-0709
JUFO-Level of this publication: 1
Open Access: Open Access publication


Even though biomass is characterised as renewable energy, it produces anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, especially from biomass logistics. Lifecycle assessment (LCA) is used as a tool to quantify the GHG emissions from logistics but in the past the majority of LCAs have been steady-state and linear, when in reality, non-linear and temporal aspects (such as weather conditions, seasonal biomass demand, storage capacity, etc.) also have an important role to play. Thus, the objective of this paper was to optimise the environmental sustainability of forest biomass logistics (in terms of GHG emissions) by introducing the dynamic aspects of the supply chain and using the geographical information system (GIS) and agent-based modelling (ABM). The use of the GIS and ABM adds local conditions to the assessment in order to make the study more relevant. In this study, GIS was used to investigate biomass availability, biomass supply points and the road network around a large-scale combined heat and power plant in Naantali, Finland. Furthermore, the temporal aspects of the supply chain (e.g., seasonal biomass demand and storage capacity) were added using ABM to make the assessment dynamic. Based on the outcomes of the GIS and ABM, a gate-to-gate LCA of the forest biomass supply chain was conducted in order to calculate GHG emissions. In addition to the domestic biomass, we added imported biomass from Riga, Latvia to the fuel mixture in order to investigate the effect of sea transportation on overall GHG emissions. Finally, as a sensitivity check, we studied the real-time measurement of biomass quality and its potential impact on overall logistical GHG emissions. According to the results, biomass logistics incurred GHG emissions ranging from 2.72 to 3.46 kg CO2-eq per MWh, depending on the type of biomass and its origin. On the other hand, having 7% imported biomass in the fuel mixture resulted in a 13% increase in GHG emissions. Finally, the real-time monitoring of biomass quality helped save 2% of the GHG emissions from the overall supply chain. The incorporation of the GIS and ABM helped in assessing the environmental impacts of the forest biomass supply chain in local conditions, and the combined approach looks promising for developing LCAs that are inclusive of the temporal aspects of the supply chain for any specific location.

Last updated on 2020-31-08 at 15:31