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The transition to modern bioenergy: historical dimensions and strategic perspectives
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Energy and Climate Studies, ECS.
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Energy and Climate Studies, ECS.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7123-1824
2012 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Biomass is the oldest form of energy used by mankind, but in some ways it is also the newest, due to the tremendous diversity of applications that have emerged for deploying modern bioenergy systems around the world. Bioenergy can be explored in multiple scales, but carries a local dimension that links it to livelihoods and patterns of social organization. At the same time, other demands on biomass resources—food, feed and fibre—have been growing rapidly due to population and resource pressures. The historical evolution of biomass for energy therefore will differ from future paths based on the structural changes in end-uses in combination with the shift to biomass as a multidimensional resource. The role of biomass as a carbon sink also becomes a fundamental element of future biomass energy resource development.

In this paper the strategic elements of bioenergy are examined by reference to the historical shifts in the way that biomass has been used for energy since the industrial revolution. The factors driving the shifts away from (traditional) bioenergy can then be considered in relation to the factors behind the shift towards (modern) bioenergy. The variables of special interest include the timeframe, changes in energy density and changes in carriers and markets. The approach is based on analysis of quantitative energy data sets for several countries and regions together with some key qualitative indicators. The transformative nature of biomass resources and their variation in scale and scope are also important elements in the transition process. The historical shift away from traditional biomass can offer clues as to how the return to biomass as an energy source will unfold in different world regions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
DTU, Denmark, 2012.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Energy Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-155711OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-155711DiVA: diva2:762154
Conference
International Conference on Sustainability Transitions
Note

QC 20141112

Available from: 2014-11-10 Created: 2014-11-10 Last updated: 2014-11-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Exploiting cross-level linkages to steer the bioenergy transition
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploiting cross-level linkages to steer the bioenergy transition
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis develops the notion of the bioenergy transition as the long-term transformation of biomass from a local resource into a global commodity. An historical assessment is combined with interdisciplinary analysis that focuses especially on liquid biofuels and highlights the environmentally innovative case of bioethanol. The bioenergy transition is investigated from several different perspectives: technical-economic, socio-economic, socio-technical and political-economic. Linkages across different levels from household to global are analysed in relation to the effectiveness of bioenergy policies. In addition to studies at household and national levels, a North-South perspective is taken by including two major regions: the European Union (EU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The relation of EU biofuels policy to international climate and trade regimes is assessed to show how regional-global linkages affect policy design and implementation.

Household bioenergy markets in developing countries are poorly articulated and difficult to link to other sectors; a detailed choice model in Ethiopia showed that product-specific factors should be evaluated to inform design of programmes and policies. Municipal and sub-national markets for bioenergy have been successfully linked to national policies to coordinate supply and demand in Brazil and Sweden. Regional market development for biofuels has great potential in southern Africa but regional-national linkages currently remain unexploited. National level efforts remain quite important in terms of energy security and environmental innovation, as evidenced in Brazil, Malawi and Sweden. Biofuels sustainability criteria in the EU Renewable Energy Directive (EU-RED) were evaluated in relation to the international climate and trade regimes and were found to shift some costs onto developing countries. One of the mechanisms for assuring biofuels sustainability is bilateral agreements, which remain untested but potentially effective.

Cross-level linkages were often unexploited in the cases studied; national approaches cannot easily capture complementarities across sectors and scales in biophysical and economic terms. Linking biofuels markets across different levels from household to global through regional development policies and specialised governance mechanisms could help to steer the bioenergy transition towards sustainability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. xiv, 135 p.
Series
TRITA-ECS Report, 2014/03
Keyword
energy transition, modern bioenergy, traditional biomass, cross-level linkages, institutional design, regional development, alternative fuels
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Energy Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-155686 (URN)978-91-7595-342-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-11-25, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:30 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20141112

Available from: 2014-11-11 Created: 2014-11-09 Last updated: 2014-11-11Bibliographically approved

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