Biorefineries as Models of a Sustainable Socio-technical Transition?

Julie Gobert

Abstract


Abstract: A biorefinery is an agro-industrial facility which creates an interface between the industrial and agricultural worlds: between technological and natural assets. Biorefineries are one element of a global socio-technical system and reflect how the sustainability transition is put in place at the local and regional levels. Analyzed according to the model of transition management, on-going generations of biorefineries are regarded as new niches of innovation and experiment, no longer solely dedicated to biofuel production. The stakeholders involved in their development try to find new processes of biomass transformation, rooted in their local situation, which consume less energy less energy, to use different types of feedstock and produce a variety of final products/ outputs. However, this biomass optimization is a controversial issue because it raises multi-scale societal environmental dilemmas. Based on empirical research this article reflects on the tangibility of sociotechnical transitions and their respect for sustainability principles.

Keywords: biorefineries; sustainability transition; multi-level perspectives; socio-technical system; narratives.

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