Scientists are wary of treating fuels from biomass as a straight replacement for oil and fossil fuels. File photo: Scanpix
Energy dependence

Biofuels – a risky replacement for oil

"We need food as well"
4:54 min

Sweden wants to cut its energy dependence on fossil fuels by 90 percent in 40 years' time. One way to do that is to make fuel from organic products that we can grow ourselves. But will a higher use of biofuels simply lead to another addiction?

According to the Royal Academy of Sciences, Sweden can reduce its energy dependence on fossil fuels from 80 percent – today's level – to under ten percent by 2050.

But can Sweden, a country that chops down at a fairly high rate, really afford to make its use of fuel dependent on the forests?

"We have about 100 million square kilometres of forest growing every year. And we cut less than that," said Annika Nordin, a professor in forest ecophysiology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

"We can cut a bit more – but we can also use what we already cut more efficiently," she said.

After filling up his tank with fossile fuels, a car owner outside of Stockholm told Radio Sweden that he may switch to biofuels when he buys his next car.

But many scientists are wary of treating fuels from biomass as a straight replacement for fossil fuels.

"Most of the things that we focus on now are not able to reduce the production of biomass enough. We also have to have food," Brian Mathiesen, an associate professor at Aalborg University in Denamrk, told Radio Sweden.

"We have to do a lot of research, and a lot of thinking about what the best biomass technology will be. What I can see in the crystal ball is that we should boost the biomass to make it more productive," Brian Mathiesen added.

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