Area analysis for mapping biogenic carbon flows

The area analysis is concluded (conducted between September 2022 and February 2023). 

Read the report (in Swedish)

In Sweden, a large part of the emerging bioeconomy is based on forest biomass. This is natural as Sweden has a very active forestry, and forest value chains constitute a large part of today’s bioeconomy, in terms of both the volume and the value added. 

To increase resource efficiency, there are basically two alternatives: 1) to identify flows (residual streams of various kinds) where bio-based carbon does not end up in products and/or 2) to identify processes, applications and products with the potential to provide improved function/increased amount of product from the same amount of raw material. Both these cases should be based on a mapping of forest biogenic carbon flows. 

Biomass is, and will remain, an important component of the transition to a sustainable economy and a sustainable energy system. The climate transition can to a large extent be achieved by moving away from fossil energy carriers containing carbon, for example by electrifying transport or switching to renewable hydrogen in some industrial applications. 

However, carbon-containing energy carriers and materials will continue to play an important role in many sectors in the longer term, such as in various materials and in aviation and maritime fuels. These carbon atoms must then be biogenic and come from biomass in various forms. But biomass is a limited resource and will continue to be so in the future, as demand increases in an emerging bioeconomy. Therefore, important factors for a sustainable transition towards a circular and bio-based economy are not only good climate performance of the bio-based products that are manufactured, but also high resource efficiency in the biomass value chains. 

This area analysis aimed to identify strategic development needs and future opportunities for increased carbon efficiency. 

The assignment included: 

  • Mapping of the bio-based carbon flows in the forest value chains, as they are today. 
  • Identifying areas for a more efficient use of biomass. 
  • Identifying new uses for residual streams.  
  • Discussing development needs through stakeholder dialogue. 


The approach RISE intended to employ in the area analysis in order to achieve the stated purposes and goals was to use the broad and deep knowledge that RISE possesses in the area and, after an initial literature review, to conduct dialogues with stakeholders representing different forestry value chains. Here, access to already established networks and contacts was extremely valuable. The clarification of the complete system picture required various experts within RISE being hired both for the initial literature reviews, as well as for the stakeholder dialogues carried out within the framework of the project. The work would also include the carbon flows in society. When the analyses of each sector were complete, an overall picture was compiled. 

Focus areas 

The analyses focused on the following elements: 

  1. Forests.
  2. Sawmills, including use and recycling of products.
  3. Pulp and paper mills, including use and recycling of products.
  4. Energy plants & biorefineries.

Their significant interrelated flows, as well as linked flows in society through recycling, reuse, combustion, and so on, are roughly shown in Figure 1 below. 

Results and impacts 

The results of the work were published in a written report and in presentation material that illustrates both the actual mapping, and presents the research and development needs identified for increasing the carbon efficiency. The results present the carbon flows as a description of the current situation, and they describe carbon efficiency, that is, the proportion of carbon that ends up in products of various types, as well as which technical development needs exist. 

Stakeholders and budget 

The assignment was carried out by RISE under the leadership of MoRe Research AB (part of the Pulp, Paper and Packaging Department within RISE). The project had a total budget of 400 000 SEK. 

Steering Committes

Anders Brolin – Stora Enso (PB). 
Johanna Mossberg – RISE (TE).
Lars Zetterberg – Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
Sverker Danielsson – Chairman, BioInnovation.