VTT evaluates the climate impacts of peat diesel

The climate impacts of the production and utilisation of peat diesel can be 10–80% lower compared with fossil diesel

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According to VTT’s analysis, production of peat diesel can be steered towards supply chains with a 10–80% lower climate impacts compared with fossil diesel, provided the peat is obtained from forestry-drained or cultivated peatland (cropland) using certified supply chains. Based on a life cycle analysis, VTT has calculated the greenhouse impact of different peat diesel supply chains in Finnish conditions. Compared with fossil diesel, the position of peat diesel is more ambiguous in terms of climate impacts, depending on analysis limits and baseline, the after-treatment of peatland and the method used for generating the electricity required for the process.

Within the 100-year duration, the greenhouse impacts of peat diesel chains remain below those of fossil diesel if the peat is obtained from cropland and low-emission electricity is used in the process.

Peat from cropland or forestry-drained peatland

Within a 300-year duration, supply chains based on peat raw material will improve their position compared with fossil diesel in proportion to the 100-year horizon. In this case, the greenhouse impact of several peat-based chains remains below that of fossil diesel, particularly if the peat is obtained from cropland. Producing synthetic peat diesel from cropland using the new peat production method reduces its greenhouse impact by 80% compared with fossil diesel, when carbon dioxide-neutral energy is used in the process. Use of peat obtained from forestry-drained peatland also reduces the climate impacts by 10–20%, if the biomass generated during after-treatment of peatland is also utilized and low-emission energy is used in the process.

The climate impacts of peat diesel depend on the refining process, the end use of the fuel and the process emissions (losses). Emissions related to the energy required by the process also have a significant impact, and particular attention should be focused on electricity procurement.

Cropland is a powerful source of emissions. Harvesting these areas for raw materials will reduce the emissions, which makes them an advantageous source of peat raw material. While forestry-drained peatland also acts as an emission source, the volume of emissions is smaller than emissions from cropland.

Criteria for sustainable production under preparation

The European Commission, many of the EU Member States and various parties and non-governmental organisations are drafting criteria for sustainable production and consumption. The aim is to ensure that biofuels entering the market will not cause environmental or socio-economic problems but will help reduce the greenhouse impact. The various drafts set the long-term target for reducing the greenhouse impact at a minimum of 30%.

 


Additional information

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