Figure 1. Theories acceptance diagram by CIRPA team for ABC-Salt

Studying biofuels adoption at the ABC-Salt Consortium Summer School 2019

During the ABC-Salt Summer School on ‘Advanced Thermochemical Conversion Biomass Technologies,’ held at Aston University in the UK, the Interuniversity Research Centre on Environmental Psychology in Italy (CIRPA) offered an in-depth look at the objectives and implementation methods of an interdisciplinary approach to techno-economic evaluation, considering socio-economic and environmental aspects. As an introduction, some brief notes on Social Science methodologies i.e. ways of analysing and mapping stakeholders, as well as qualitative/quantitative tools for socio-economic and environmental assessment, were noted.

During the first part of a two-day session, participants were asked to actively collaborate in the socio-economic evaluation of the ABC-Salt’s novel way to produce sustainable liquid biofuels at laboratory scale. Everyone completed a written evaluation, focusing on personal characteristics, technology features and contextual elements that may positively or negatively impact on the technology acceptance by various stakeholders (companies, universities, policy makers, etc). These were derived from relevant interdisciplinary literature (as depicted in Figure 1 above).

Afterwards, a tutorial activity on text analysis techniques was carried out to identify broader factors able to drive the acceptance of energy technologies. These results were given as feedback to the participants.

The session ended with an open discussion on this feedback, resulting in some interesting comments. For instance, a high level of knowledge about biofuel issues is attained, and a growing desire and interest to pay more for biofuels than for fossil fuels. This could in part be due to a better understanding of the high production costs of biofuels compared to traditional fuels. This begged the questions, could this result help in designing a communication strategy aimed at improving biofuel acceptance? In addition, how could the potential negative implications of such an argument act as a barrier in the adoption of new technology and how could these be bypassed?

This and many other questions emerged during this exploratory phase and helped to standardize the interview outline to be adopted in the current qualitative study within Task 2.5 of WP2.