The territorial biorefinery: An embedded socio-technical system of innovation
European Regional Science Association - World Renaissance: Changing roles for people and places
Biorefineries are a socio-technical object, more and more promoted in European and national discourse and strategies, as they are considered as relevant to solve some economic and social challenges of remote areas. They are supposed to open either alternative markets for agriculture or forestry, to create new opportunities for regional economic development or to maintain and diversify traditional industrial activities. Actually a biorefinery is a facility or a group of facilities which transforms biomass into energy (biofuels, power...) and different kind of marketable products (chemicals, materials...), as well as food and feed. Their developers aim at optimizing all resources used in the process to reduce waste production and create new high value by-products. Biorefineries are one element of a global socio-technical system and reflect how the sustainability transition is thought at the local and regional levels. Analysed in the model of transition management drawn by Geels (2002) and Grin, Rotmans and Shot (2010), the on-going generations of biorefineries are regarded as new niches of innovation and experiment, no more uppermost dedicated to biofuels production. The stakeholders involved in their development try to find new processes of biomass transformation, consuming less energy, using different types of feedstock and producing various outputs and embedded in their siting place. We assume that this evolution of biorefineries results not just from technical and scientific progress, but also from human and social assets. These assets can be studied as forms of individual, social, and territorial capital (Gumuchian et Pecqueur, 2007). Then we have built an analytical framework to analyze how a project emerges from the interactions between stakeholders, the territory where it takes place and the institutions, which regulate, lock or stimulate territorial innovation.