9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Discussing the Social Pillar of Sustainability Building I, Auditório J.J. Laginha

Social sustainability and rural bioenergy production in Finland

Renewable energy production is often regarded as a way for sustainable energy production. However, not much research has been done in order to analyse how exactly renewable energy can fill all the four dimensions of sustainable development: environmental, ecological, social and cultural. And especially the aspect of social sustainability seems to be neglected. This article aims at shortening this gap and thus focuses on the social sustainability of bioenergy production in Finnish farms.

The analysis is based on 30 qualitative interviews of farmers producing biogas, wood-based heat or biodiesel. A detailed description of the models of production for these three types of energy production is given and their links to social sustainability are analysed. The analysis is based on a framework of social sustainability in bioenergy production, also presented in the article.

The main finding was that all three bioenergy production models include clear traits of social sustainability. These are apparent in ameliorating quality of life of the farmer-energy entrepreneur. However, the ability of local biogas and biodiesel production to produce social sustainability appears to be significantly lower than that of heat entrepereneurship, when comparing for example social networking and employment creation.