Accepted paper:

Re-ordering material flows for renewable energy production or manure management: the emergence of biogas production in Finland


David Lazarevic (Finnish Environment Institute)
Helena Valve (Finnish Environment Institute)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates the emergence of the biogas niche in Finland. It adopts a strategic niche management perspective, specifically focusing on the re-order material flows in niche development.

Paper long abstract:

In a number of European countries, biogas production systems have been established to re-order material flows; to transform waste and surplus streams (e.g. biowaste, sludge, manure, forestry biomass) into renewable fuels (for energy production and vehicle transportation) and as a fertilizer in agricultural production. Within the field of sustainability transitions, strategic niche management has been adopted as an approach to investigate the emergence and evolution of biogas in counties, such as Denmark, the Netherlands and India. Many of these studies conform to a common narrative in their analysis of the emergence of the biogas niche; biogas plants as a technology in the transition toward renewable energy systems and as a response to the need for climate change mitigation. However, such historical case studies have been criticized due to their reliance on secondary data sources and a lack of critical attention to 'accepted' accounts of historical significant events in the development of socio-technical niches.

The emergence of the biogas niche in Finland has been slower compared to counties such as the Netherlands and Sweden. Hence, this case provides us with the opportunity to explore the emergence of the Finnish biogas niche in the making. Using document analysis and semi-structured interviews, we investigate the emerging Finnish biogas niche, paying specific attention to the material re-orderings coevolving with biogas production. By placing manure at the centre of our analysis, we argue that biogas production can fit into multiple narratives; as opposed to being located within the sole narrative of renewable energy production.

panel A09
Encounters with and for circular economy initiatives