Investments into forest biorefineries under different price and policy structures
Increasing scarcity of oil reserves and the high CO2 emissions from using oil have contributed to the development of renewable biofuels. Pulp and paper mill integrated forest biorefineries offer one important means to increase biofuel production. This study analyzes the effects of policies to support biofuel production in the pulp and paper sector. We study the relative effectiveness of three biofuel supporting policy instruments, namely production subsidy, input subsidy and investment subsidy. We present a partial equilibrium pulp and paper market model with a biorefinery investment option. A numerical model is used to evaluate the impacts of policy instruments on wood prices, as well as input choices and investment strategies of pulp and paper industries. The data represent the Finnish pulp and paper sector. We evaluate the values and direct costs of the policy instruments in a situation of exogenous biofuel production targets. The direct costs of input and investment subsidies are higher than those of a production subsidy. With all the policy instruments, Finnish pulp and paper mills would invest in wood-gasifying technology, instead of black liquor based one. The number of biorefinery units is dependent on the subsidy type — investment and input subsidies are likely to result in more numerous but smaller biofuel production units than a production subsidy. With all the policy instruments the demand for wood increases in Finland leading to higher wood prices. This, in turn, could reflect negatively on the profitability of the pulp and paper industries. To a significant degree, the model and the results can be generalized to other countries and markets where integrated pulp and paper mills are operating.
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