BioPAD Blog – Supply Chain work on a case in Finland

Mikko Nivala elaborated on a GIS-based comparison of alternatives for long-distance transportation of energy wood in Finland in the 46th International Symposium on Forestry Mechanisation (FORMEC 2013).

The use of forest chips for energy has increased steadily in Finland from less than one million solid cubic metres in 2000 to over 7.5 million cubic metres in 2011. With increasing demand and competition of forest biomass, its transportation distances will become longer in the future. The aim of the study was to evaluate long-distance transportation solutions and inter-modal handling of energy wood from young forests to a combined heat and power plant in western Finland. In the case study, the costs of various supply chains were estimated based on spatially explicit data. The methodology used for the comparison involves (a) selecting the end-user(s) and define the procurement area, (b) estimating the availability of energy wood in the procurement area, (c) deciding which supply chains to compare and (d) calculating costs of wood chips delivery to the user.

The analysis was started with the estimation of municipality-level potentials of energy wood from young forests in Kainuu province. The potentials were estimated based on National Forest Inventory data. Next, present local use of small-sized trees was deducted from the potentials and the remaining share distributed to supply points on forest land available for wood supply. For each point, supply costs with ten different supply chains were calculated based on transport distances and productivity models.

Altogether, five chains were defined for transport of whole trees and five for transport of delimbed stemwood. The transport modes included train, traditional 60-ton truck and truck combinations of 68 and 76 tonnes which have been operated from the beginning of October 2013. Whole trees were assumed to be transported either as chips or uncomminuted, whereas for delimbed stemwood only uncomminuted option was allowed. Use of interchangeable containers was assumed in two of the whole-tree chains. In the case study, the whole-tree supply chains were not competitive against the stemwood chains.

ImageFigure 1. Train terminal area close to power plant in Kokkola. The need of train transport in wood energy might increase when the use of wood energy increase and transportation distances getting longer. Source: Juha Laitila

Furthermore, stemwood provides an additional benefit compared to chips: the possibility of storing in a terminal to balance fluctuations in supply and demand.

Train-based chains proved to be cost competitive with the traditional truck chain only on very limited areas around the terminals. However, the costs of the chains based on the bigger trucks were always lower than the costs of the train chains.

The various logistical options were compared using visualisation in ArcGIS (Figure 2). Different sensitivity analyses will be made for final paper.

ImageFigure 2. Example of visualization in ArcGIS: Supply chain costs of train transport based chain (left picture) and truck transport based chain (right picture).

Within the BioPAD project, Working Package 3 will conduct case study analyses and reports for selected cases and thereby help local communities to find optimal supply chain solutions or case specific supply chain costs.

Based on the presentation: Nivala, Mikko; Anttila, Perttu & Laitila, Juha “A GIS-based comparison of alternatives for long-distance transportation of energy wood from young forests in Finland” in INFRES Session at FORMEC 2013. More information about FORMEC: and about INFRES:

GIS References for maps:

–       Roads: Digiroad (© Tiehallinto/Digiroad 2010)

–       Railways:© MML, license MYY/179/06-V

–       Railway Terminals: © RHK

–       Kainuu region, MML, license MYY/179/06-V

–       Approaching map of Kainuu modified from:

Mikko Nivala, Perttu Anttila, Juha Laitila and Robert Prinz


About biopadblog

Developing a local bioenergy market can provide significant opportunities for rural and remote areas, by improving security of energy supply, contributing to a reduction in CO2 emissions and stimulating the local economy by creating jobs and keeping payments for energy within the local community. A new project, BioPAD (Bioenergy Proliferation and Deployment), which targets the Northern Periphery of Europe, aims to ensure that bioenergy becomes more widely used and that awareness of the opportunities it provides are increased. The project will help the development of bioenergy and improve our understanding of the links between supply and demand by looking at supply chains for a variety of bioenergy fuels and different ways of converting these fuels into sustainable energy. Understanding the supply chains and the ways bioenergy moves from fuel source to energy provision will help the establishment of robust and efficient supply services which can match local demand. BioPAD is led by the Western Development Commission (Ireland) and is funded under the ERDF Interreg IVB Northern Periphery Programme (NPP)
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