Location specific factors that shape the future rollout of advanced biofuel production in the European Union
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The EU aims to become climate neutral by 2050. Based and on the importance of the transport sector for decarbonization strategies, European policies and regulations foster the development and establishment of advanced biofuels. Considering the current slack in development of advanced biofuels, acceleration of development, and a pan-European rollout of such fuels, are urgently needed. The importance of locational conditions and location specific factors for sustainable energy production, as well as their relevance for a potential large-scale deployment has been pointed out. Yet the predominant lack of information about which location specific factors will shape this required deployment in the EU is ubiquitous and constitutes the research question’s objective. To approach this blind spot, the industrial location theory serves as an analytical framework in this thesis and supports realizing the research purpose. Based on the theory’s assumptions of transport cost, agglomeration, infrastructure, and policy conditions being vital for industrial location decisions, dynamics, interrelationships, and interdependencies in the field were investigated. Three different approaches were utilized to answer the research question, starting with a location analysis of plants currently producing intermediates or final fuels using lignocellulosic feedstock. Moreover, a review of supply chain modelling studies allowed for deductions relating to optimization viewpoints. Simultaneously, semi-structured interviews with 17 experts from relevant industries contributed to necessary in-field insights and perspectives. The study identified distinct location specific factors. Those factors center around case specific opportunities for transport- and production cost reduction and point at feedstock availability and feedstock proximity as fundamental prerequisites. Subsequently, making use of existing (transportation-) infrastructure and industrial areas was found to be vital. Strategies including Retrofitting, Co-location, Co-processing were identified to be elementary for reducing advanced biofuel production cost. Centralized- and distributed supply chains designs emerged as most likely options for the future rollout. Centralized and simple supply chains for smaller scale production plants and distributed supply chains for larger plant capacities and more complex supply chains. The thesis concludes that using existing infrastructure, suitable industries and feedstock abundant areas constitute important and foundational location specific factors. Facilitating the rollout requires for scenario and case specific policy instruments. Yet, the results indicate that the rollout will not take place in the needed time.
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