The principal products of the bioeconomy are biobased products and bioenergy, while the fundamental technology, introduced to replace petroleumbased refineries, is biorefineries. Thus, biorefineries underpin the future of many biobased products such as liquid biofuels for transport. Even though biorefinery ideas are increasingly discussed on paper, the adoption by Swedish industry and integration in existing infrastructures is limited.This could partly be explained by the demand for transition between technological systems on co-evolutionary processes including changes in governing institutions, regulation, markets, user practices and industrial structure. In other words, transitions are complex not only on a technology basis, but also in regard to the surrounding conditions. Moreover, transitions do not follow a one-size-fits-all model but are shaped by contextual factors.
Lars Coenen, Lund University, has led a project within the f3 and Swedish Energy Agency collaborative research program Renewable transportation fuels and systems aimed at assessing opportunities, challenges and steering options to expedite development and deployment of Swedish integrated biorefineries. The central research question has been “What promotes and hinders transition pathways to the development and deployment of integrated biorefineries in Sweden?” and the project is titled Enabling the transition to a bio-economy: innovation system dynamics and policy.
Recently finished, the project results have so far been presented in six scientific articles. A large part of the work has also been to construct a database with information about innovation projects related to biorefineries and biorefinery platform technologies in Sweden.
The project concludes that in international comparison, there is a number of significant strengths in the innovation system for Swedish biorefinery development. However, there are also critical factors such as e.g. weak industrial participation, lack of industrial absorptive capacity and weak collaboration across knowledge and organizational boundaries.
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