Socio-Economic Drivers in Implementing Bioenergy Projects

Completed
Website www.task29.net
Countries Canada, Croatia, Germany, Norway, and the UK

Leadership

Mr Keith Richards
TV Energy Ltd
Liberty House, The Enterprise Centre
New GReenham Park
Newbury RG19 6HW
United Kingdom

Email: keith.richards@tvenergy.org
Tel:  +44 1635 817 420
Fax: +44 1635 552 779

Assistant Task Leaders

Mr Julije Domac
Managing Director
North-West Croatia Regional Energy Agency
Andrije Žaje 10
ZAGREB, 10000

Email: jdomac@regea.org
Web:  www.task29.net
Tel:  +385 1 309 8315
Fax: +385 1 309 8316

Objective

The objective of Task 29 is to achieve a better understanding of the social and economic drivers and impacts of establishing bioenergy fuel supply chains and markets at the local, regional, national and international level, to synthesise and transfer to stakeholders critical knowledge and new information, to improve the assessment of the above mentioned impacts of biomass production and utilisation in order to increase the uptake of bioenergy and to provide guidance to policy makers.

Work scope for the Task period (2010-2012): The Task has been able to clearly set out the ‘state-of-the-art’ of socio- economic understanding and has commenced the application of new and novel methods of thinking to community centred initiatives, based on community interaction and feedback. Such modelling work and study has shown a clear impact when deployed in participating countries and beyond. The Task has also commenced the aggregation of case study material which shows in stark contrast the differing approaches and results that can be gained at the local and regional level by working with different host entities.

One key area to explore in greater detail is the impact of national policy on regional and local activities and to provide feedback to policy makers on both the positive and the negative implications of actual change and further considered change.

The proposed Task prolongation will seek to build further on the solid foundations constructed with a core team of participants as well as to extend the work beyond its current level. The Task participants, whom are supported by a wide range of national experts, identified the following three overarching themes which will be given maximum attention in the proposed new three year programme below:

  • Fuel poverty,
  • Green employment,
  • Joint collaboration with FAO on further development of WISDOM methodology (inclusion of socio-economic factors) with the possibility of creation of own national WISDOM database.

Other themes and points of interest are:

  • To examine land use issues and competition resulting in social ‘dislocation’ (working with national government bodies and Tasks 30/31, 39 and 40)
  • To examine ‘Biomass in the global economy’ and the impact that international trade in biomass has on rural communities in developing countries (e.g. through higher food prices are having as a direct consequence of increased production of 1st generation biofuels). Equally, the impact in developed countries on emerging bioenergy business and communities. At least one workshop with a relevant international organisation / United Nations specialised agency
  • FAO or UNIDO is planned during the next three years
  • To examine sustainability criteria and certification at the local, national and international levels.
  • To use bioenergy as an economic development tool, especially in areas where the forest sector is in decline (e.g. in Eastern Ontario). Tracking these efforts in selected communities to be compared and contrasted with following similar efforts in other member countries. At least one workshop to be held on this topic
  • To use bioenergy in addressing social needs by examining the beneficial impacts when applied to social housing developments (e.g. by addressing fuel poverty issues)
  • To examine ‘Entrepreneurship Models’ for competitive biomass supply (small forest owners, farmers etc.)
  • To examine the wider dissemination opportunities using a range of marketing actions (including social networks) arising out of targeted examples of biomass project success (e.g. the north Tipperary ‘eco-village’ development) and to promote more rapid take up and replication
  • To examine the role of education, extension and competence building in the bioenergy sector (The Energy Farm as an example)
  • To assess regional cluster strategies for development of bioenergy (Arena-project Hedmark/Oppland in Norway)
  • Adoption and diffusion of innovative bioenergy technologies, the interrelated nature of technology and fuel markets
  • Risk governance assessments of bioenergy
  • To assess target regional strategies and the ability to balance energy, food, and development priorities to deliver sufficient bioenergy projects in timely fashion to meet set targets (working in conjunction with regional governance bodies). The balance of ‘carrot and stick’
  • To produce case study examples of approaches and how this cascades to Local Government and application (working in conjunction with regional and local governance bodies). At least one workshop with relevant stakeholder groups would be held to assess the levels of success and engagement, providing feedback to all groups and to policy makers in particular
  • To work with at least one project developer (non energy, possibly a volume house builder or business park developer) to create optimal socio-economic gain for those involved (e.g. householders, businesses) and to hold a workshop associated with this topic drawing on the developer’s expertise.

The new work undertaken in Task 29 will focus primarily on participating countries, taking into account their different international frameworks but will nevertheless find echoes for all IEA countries and beyond. The work will include the sharing of research results, stimulation of new research directions in national, regional, and local programmes of participating countries, technology transfer from science to resource managers, planners and industry as well as beyond national borders. The emphasis will be on an integrated approach to economic, environmental, and social aspects of bioenergy systems from production through supply chains to eventual consumers. Multi-disciplinary partnerships of key stakeholders in forest biomass production and utilisation research, planning and operations will be fostered. A clear linkage with Universities will continue to be made in order to ensure a strong scientific component and participation in Task activities. Likewise, strong links will be encouraged with industry partners and communities able to deliver projects and data for analysis and that generate real change on the ground.

The topics listed above will be elaborated on through international expert workshops and reviewed workshop proceedings, special issues of recognised international journals (e.g. Energy Policy, Biomass & Bioenergy etc.), case study reports, joint papers at the most important related conferences, international experts meetings, position papers etc. Much of these activities will be conducted in cooperation with other IEA Bioenergy Tasks in order to achieve the highest level of quality, synergy, and global impact.