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An assessment of the uncertainties related to bioenergy applications

Laura Kainiemi (Department of Energy Technology, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Sanni Eloneva (Department of Energy Technology, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Mika Järvinen (Department of Energy Technology, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 8 April 2014




The purpose of this paper is to identify the most significant uncertainties for bioenergy applications, in order to identify factors determining the success of introducing bioenergy into the current energy system.


A framework is built for identifying the most significant uncertainties based on studies exploring the positive potentials as well as possible negative effects of bioenergy. The framework is applied to explore uncertainties of bioenergy-based transport fuels and heat and power generation through two real life case studies.


The results indicate that the most significant uncertainties are environmental and economic. Bioenergy applications have potential to mitigate climate change, but also come with negative environmental effects. Case studies show that operations in developing nations contain higher political/institutional and social uncertainty than those in developed countries, due to weaker regulations and enforcement.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is part of an on-going research project. Results will be verified with stakeholder interviews and analysis. Further institutional analysis of the country settings is necessary.

Practical implications

The use of a feedstock with high environmental, social and institutional uncertainties will lower public acceptance. Acting in accordance to the law is not sufficient to ensure sustainability and additional, voluntary measures should be undertaken.


The paper identifies the most significant uncertainties for bioenergy. Uncertainties from social acceptance and institutional settings are higher in developing countries and acceptability requires more than following regulations.



Academy of Finland (projects 258319 and 26495) and Sustainable Bioenergy Solutions for Tomorrow (BEST) programme are gratefully acknowledged for funding this work.


Kainiemi, L., Eloneva, S. and Järvinen, M. (2014), "An assessment of the uncertainties related to bioenergy applications", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 301-312.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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