Bianca Cavicchi


0032 494 196092


Storgata 2-4-6, 0155 Oslo


This paper analyses the case of bioenergy development in Norway – drawing on Hedmark county located on the borders with Sweden – from a social, economic and environmental perspective (triple bottom line). Since 2008, the number of forest-based bioenergy plants increased rapidly, following the introduction of the wood-chips scheme and the high local expectations of its benefits for rural development. Obstacles to its continuous sustainable development have subsequently been increasing. Therefore, the goal of the study is to investigate the causal processes of bioenergy development to understand what threatens its triple bottom line sustainability. The study does so by employing qualitative system dynamics (i.e. causal loop diagram) and using interviews with local actors to elaborate on studies that look at the influence of power, institutions and expectations on the transition processes. Results show that the local actors’ positive perceptions of the benefits of bioenergy mainly drove its initial development, but that conflicting local interests, power relations, and market dynamics now threaten these initially positive perceptions.

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This paper deals with processes and outcomes of sustainable bioenergy development in Emilia Romagna. It draws on an on-going research project concerning inclusive innovation in forest-based bioenergy and biogas in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Italy. The goal is to explore how local governance impacts on inclusive innovation processes and triple bottom sustainability of bioenergy development in Emilia Romagna and, ultimately, to contribute to the debate on the bioeconomy. It thus compares the case of biogas and forest-based bioenergy production. The study adopts an analytical framework called Grounded Innovation (GRIP) and the local governance approach. The study uses qualitative methods and particularly semi-structured interviews and governance analysis. The key results show different outcomes on both inclusive innovation and triple bottom-line dimensions. Biogas has not fostered inclusiveness and triple bottom line sustainability benefits, contrary to forest-based bioenergy. The findings indicate that the minor role of local actors, particularly municipalities, in favour of industrial and national interests may jeopardise the sustainability of biobased industries. Besides, policies limited to financial incentives may lead to a land-acquisition rush, unforeseen local environmental effects and exacerbate conflicts.


This paper addresses the case of bioenergy development in Emilia Romagna, using and building on a ‘pathways to sustainability’ approach (Leach et al. 2010). It represents the first attempt to apply the ‘pathways’ approach to a European context, investigating the dominant narratives and system framings that led to particular pathways of bioenergy development in the Italian region from 2000 onwards. It then explores how alternative framings emerged as a result of material system changes, and documents how these served to re-frame debates over the following decade. The paper points to a tentative result of this reframing – a redirection of pathways to smaller-scale bioenergy development that addresses the socio-economic needs and environmental concerns of local farmers and communities. The paper makes a concrete contribution to the ‘pathways’ approach by providing a detailed analysis of how framings evolve dynamically as a result of feedbacks between different situated knowledges, framings and the material properties of the system.


Bioenergy and rural development are increasingly under political focus. Bioenergy development is considered as a tool to deal with the climate change and rural areas crisis. The European Directive 2009/28/CE has set the goals for bioenergy production, and the Regulation 1698/2005 on rural development links the improving of conditions in rural areas to renewable energy production. Rural areas are the source of raw materials and the place to set bioenergy installations, while the new activity could provide rural citizens with new jobs and green energy. This policy context is understood in the view of other three main European policies, namely the regional, climate change and green growth and the innovation policies. Rural development is deeply tied to the former that points at rural regions as the ones to be stronger supported. The innovation policy engages regions in an effort to strengthen innovation policies and learning by interacting throughout the European Area. The focus of the thesis is on Italy and further on Emilia-Romagna, as one of the most developed Italian regions. Emilia-Romagna is compared with Norway, a non- European Union country that has a different administrative and policy structure, but one that is nevertheless influenced by EU policies through the ETA. Within the two main case studies, I considered individual case studies to find out the practices and the links between the two core policy areas. The results have been framed and assessed through the regional innovation systems theory, in order to explain how the bioenergy system and rural development are fostered in Emilia-Romagna and Norway. The main findings show two different policy frameworks and how they affect the development of the bioenergy and rural areas. Emilia-Romagna has a confused situation and a difficult confrontation between rural citizens, bioenergy investors and local governments, but the sector is still more developed than in Norway. Moreover the feed in tariff is fostering single random investments. By contrast, Norwegian policy framework is more easily accessible, the investments are more locally-based and there is no national feed-in-tariff. Thus, the actors cooperate more in order to invest in a bioenergy activity, while rural communities seem to experience positive local return in terms of new jobs and energy prices.