Energy transition with biomass residues and waste: regional-scale potential and conflicts. A case study from North Hesse, Germany
Bioenergy plays a significant role in the expansion of sustainable energy transitions based on renewable energies, and thus in achieving climate targets through decarbonization of global production and consumption patterns. This article deals with the question of whether and which bioenergy potentials exist and the barriers and preconditions relevant for utilization from a regional perspective based on stakeholder interviews in North Hesse, Germany. Insights were gained into the objectives that regional stakeholders associate with energy recovery from residual and waste materials and the role of ecological modernization in this context. Under current conditions, regional stakeholders assess the potential of biomass residues for energy use as low owing to legal barriers to the use of biomass residues and waste for energy, a high degree of fragmentation, and locally specific design of the uses of these resources. These regional stakeholder assessments contradict the expansion targets and potential calculations of government agencies and research centers. Furthermore, regional stakeholders do not link the expansion of residue- and waste-based bioenergy with ecological modernization objectives (i.e. linking ecological objectives with increases in innovation, growth, and employment), but are mainly driven by the search for cost-savings, improved efficiency, and more sustainable use of biomass residues.