Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

WP(7) Socioeconomic analysis - Socio-economic barriers for energy wood production and utilisation

- This work addresses socio-economic aspects in the context of energy wood production chains.

- It is shown that the term socio-economics is not used consistently in European studies on renewable energy use, and that the angle taken to study socio-economic issues depends on the disciplinary origin of the scientist/s undertaking the study.

Results of the stakeholder analysis:
- The boundary conditions that surround an energy innovation in a firm are not static, but are dynamic in terms of interactions among the stakeholders.
- A change in values might be needed among the different groups, rather than one group of stakeholders, that are involved in renewable energy innovations (e.g. if the local community, financial institutions, governmental bodies, suppliers of resources, all have parallel values to the manager, it helps the implementation and operation process greatly).
- When selecting optimal policy bundles based on experiences from other countries, the embeddedness of the stakeholders in their culture may interfere: Are the interactions between the main stakeholders, i.e. with the community, government, financial institutions and supplier of resources (if applicable), similar or dissimilar to the situation in the home country?

Results from the survey:
- Many wood energy utilising firms and their managers play an active role in creating support in their local community and participate in local politics. Policy makers could actively stimulate these developments.
- Economic motivation is often assumed to be the dominant factor to the individual to adopt an innovation, however the interviewed managers indicated several non-economic arguments for wood fuel utilisation:
- Willingness to use wood from local forest even if it is not the cheapest
- Environmental concerns
- Local community concerns
- Marketing strategy of companies

Key innovative results:
- We hope that the socioeconomic analysis could help policy makers in their decision-making:
-- Increase in understanding and interpretation of socio-economic issues, including attention for cultural influences.

- The latter has significant consequences when there is interest for adapting policies from different countries.
-- Stimulate socio-economic analysis and fieldwork in energy innovative projects, including following up in the implementation and operation phase after a technology has been adopted
-- Start dialogue with the various stakeholders to improve the understanding of socio-economic impacts further and disseminate information.
-- To implement policies to create a business environment that nurtures renewable energy by improving the interaction between the various stakeholders towards energy innovations, for example by training of managers or government personnel.
-- Stimulate transparent price formation.

Current status:
- Even though international technology transfer is common nowadays, its implementation might not always be as successful as expected.
- Rogers acknowledges that what happens after diffusion is just as important for the succeeding or failing of innovations, as the diffusion process itself, however it has received much less attention (Rogers 1995).
- One reason is that it is more complex to study what happens after a technology or idea has spread to different people and organizations.
- The stakeholder approach with identification of the main relationships, and their values, is one way to obtain information about what happens after a technology has become installed.

Use potential:
- The inclusion of socio-economic analysis in energy innovation planning and assessment can help to anticipate non-technical obstacles, not only during the initial adoption phase, but also in the implementation and sustained operation phase.
- The implementation and subsequent operation phase have often been overlooked in renewable energy studies.

Expected benefits:
- For example in the survey a good relationship with the wood residue supplier(s) was found to be of crucial importance for all managers in all countries.
- However the way in which the managers dealt with the suppliers, and how they perceived and overcame problems in wood fuel quality, and how they valued their cooperation now and in future, differed widely.
- The results of the stakeholder analysis and survey point out several issues that could be of interest for policy makers, who are involved in the promotion of renewable energy innovations.

Dissemination of the results have been carried out by 1) Using Echaine web-page, 2) Presentations at two by Echaine organised international workshops (Bulgaria and Russia), 3) Presentations at national and international seminars and workshops, 4) Scientific papers.

Reported by

ETH Zurich
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