Thesis subject

Biomass or biomess? The role of biomass in the Dutch energy transition

Biomass as an energy source is hotly contested, both societally and scientifically (see e.g. the book chapter by Spangenberg from 2008 from which the title is taken). In 2015 the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) organised a national biomass debate after a very critical report on biomass as an energy source was met with an equally critical response from biomass proponents.

The debate did not succeed in bringing the camps together, with division lines remaining between those who focused on technical and energetic aspects, and those who focused on social and ethical aspects. Students can do a literature review on biomass as an energy source for the Dutch context, particularly on the following questions:

  • What framings are there of biomass as an energy source? Which aspects have been contested, and which not?
  • Has this debate influenced Dutch policy-making on biomass? If so, how?
  • Does current biomass use fulfill the conditions for being a Responsible Innovation?
  • Based on the literature on socio-technical transitions and the Dutch practice of co-firing (burning biomass together with coal in coal power plants), can we make claims about whether biomass helps or hinders the Dutch transition towards sustainable energy? If so, which? If not, what information would be needed in order to make those claims?