Canadian Forest Service Publications

Estimating product and energy substitution benefits in national-scale mitigation analyses for Canada. 2016. Smyth, C.; Rampley, G.; Lemprière, T.C.; Schwab, O.; Kurz. W.A. GCB Bioenergy

Year: 2016

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 37087

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1111/gcbb.12389

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Abstract

The potential of forests and the forest sector to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is widely recognized, but challenging to quantify at a national scale. Mitigation benefits through the use of forest products are affected by product lifecycles, which determine the duration of carbon storage in wood products and substitution benefits where emissions are avoided by using wood products instead of other emissions-intensive building products and energy fuels. Here we determined displacement factors for wood substitution in the built environment and bioenergy at the national level in Canada. For solid wood products, we compiled a basket of end-use products and determined the reduction in emissions for two functionally equivalent products: a more wood-intensive product versus a less wood-intensive one. Avoided emissions for end-use products basket were weighted by Canadian consumption statistics to reflect national wood uses, and avoided emissions were further partitioned into displacement factors for sawnwood and panels. We also examined two bioenergy feedstock scenarios (constant supply and constrained supply) to estimate displacement factors for bioenergy using an optimized selection of bioenergy facilities which maximized avoided emissions from fossil fuels. Results demonstrated that the average displacement factors were found to be similar: product displacement factors were 0.54 tC displaced per tC of used for sawnwood and 0.45 tC tC−1 for panels; energy displacement factors for the two feedstock scenarios were 0.47 tC tC−1 for the constant supply and 0.89 tC tC−1 for the constrained supply. However, there was a wide range of substitution impacts. The greatest avoided emissions occurred when wood was substituted for steel and concrete in buildings, and when bioenergy from heat facilities and/or combined heat and power facilities was substituted for energy from high-emissions fossil fuels. We conclude that (i) national-level substitution benefits need to be considered within a systems perspective on climate change mitigation to avoid the development of policies that deliver no net benefits to the atmosphere, (ii) the use of long-lived wood products in buildings to displace steel and concrete reduces GHG emissions, (iii) the greatest bioenergy substitution benefits are achieved by using a mix of facility types and capacities to displace emissions-intensive fossil fuels.

Plain Language Summary

Mitigation benefits through the use of wood products can occur through substitution benefits, where emissions are avoided by using wood products instead of other emissions-intensive building products and energy fuels. The objective was to estimate displacement factors for wood substitution in the built environment and bioenergy at the national level in Canada. For solid wood products, we compiled a basket of end-use products and determined the reduction in emissions by using a more wood-intensive product versus a less wood-intensive end-use product. We also estimated displacement factors for two bioenergy feedstock scenarios (constant supply and constrained supply) where bioenergy displaced fossil fuels. Results demonstrated that the average displacement factors for wood products ranged from 0.45 to 0.54tC avoided per tC used. Energy displacement factors had a wider range of substitution impact and ranged from 0.47 tC tC-1 to 0.89 tC tC-1. The greatest avoided emissions occurred when wood was substituted for steel and concrete in buildings, and when bioenergy from heat facilities and/or combined heat and power facilities was substituted for energy from high-emissions fossil fuels. These displacement factors are used in national-scale analyses to estimate the mitigation potential for Canada’s forest sector.

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