A critical taxonomy of socio-economic studies around biomass and bio-waste to energy projects

Gratitude Charis, Gwiranai Danha, Edison Muzenda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Since biomass and bio-waste to energy systems condense activities that have important socio-economic and environmental sustainability effects, it is important that viability and impact studies have a socio-economic dimension, beyond the techno-economic and institutional aspects. This is necessitated in particular, by the limited and scattered availability of biomass or its residues, links to agricultural and forestry activities and associated socio-economic sustainability issues like land use, harvesting, transporting and economic conversion plant supplies. Such socio-economic studies, done prior to the project, can reflect a lot on the feasibility of projects, likely impacts and even help to optimize facility locations, network configurations or fleet management at various points or on the whole the supply chain. When the studies are done in retrospect of the project, as impact studies, they show how bioenergy projects can transform societies. The impact studies can then be useful precursors to similar projects within the same country/region or other similar regions. This review classifies socio-economic study literature into ‘viability’ studies-done prior to the project; and ‘impact’ studies-usually done after the project, except for ‘projected impact studies’. The studies are also classified as ‘quantitative and systematic’ or ‘qualitative’. Nonetheless, there are occasional overlaps between these study class-es. Intentionally designed integrated approaches could actually give more comprehensive results, although in most cases, they result in complex models. This classification can guide researchers to make the right choice of the socio-economic study to carry out based on their objectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
Issue numberSeptember
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Chemistry


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