This post is also available in: Svenska
Biorefineries enable a second-generation development of the forest industry in Europe and North America, while at the same time some new players are filling the new emerging markets’ rapidly increasing need for traditional paper and packaging materials.
Wood-based biorefineries increase the value of wood raw material by utilizing what is now regarded as residual products, as well as developing new products in existing production processes. Driving forces such as rising energy prices, increased environmental requirements and the need for fuels, chemicals and materials that can replace oil, refinement of renewable resources is a key process in the social economy.
At the same time, for the increasingly competitive pulp and paper industry, there is a need to find renewal, as new competition in existing product areas from countries with better conditions for high productivity has shaken up the industry. Traditional skills and positions in the Nordic forest industry are rapidly becoming obsolete. For the petrochemical and chemical industry, it is also important to follow the gradually changing conditions and secure new types of raw material flows and process technology.
The forest industry itself consists of many different interests, where companies are active in different parts of the value chain. In addition to it, there’s the petrochemical, chemical and fine chemical industry and energy companies. What interests may lead to the development of a biomass-based energy, materials and chemical industry – where several billions will probably be invested – is still an open question, but a process where different parts of the value system are now beginning to seek their positions is clearly discernible.
Sweden, through its existing, advanced, forestry industry and its suppliers of chemicals, equipment and research, has a forefront position and thus the opportunity to take initiatives in the area. Thus, there is considerable market potential that could be of great importance to the Swedish economy – if it is realized.