Crossing the biorefinery valley of death? Actor roles and networks in overcoming barriers to a sustainability transition
Journal article, 2018

Pilot and demonstration plants (PDPs) play important roles in technological development; representing bridges between basic knowledge generation and technological breakthroughs and industrial application and commercial adoption. Moreover, they also help pursue socio-technical goals, not least by creating arenas where key actors’ agency can be linked to the broader systemic context. This paper addresses the importance of the actor networks around PDP. The aim is to propose a role-based typology that can be used as an illustrative tool to facilitate a more generic analysis of PDP actor networks and their dynamics. For this purpose the paper pursues a primarily inductive approach to investigate the barriers experienced by the actors in their joint efforts to further transform the PDPs and gain a broader legitimacy for the new technologies after the initial technology verification and demonstration phases. To aid the analysis, the actor networks surrounding four Swedish biorefinery PDPs are investigated empirically.

Pilot and demonstration plants

Actor roles

Biorefinery technology

Actor networks


J. Mossberg

CIT Energy management AB

Patrik Söderholm

Luleå University of Technology

Hans Hellsmark

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis

Sofia Nordqvist

Luleå University of Technology

Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions

2210-4224 (ISSN)

Vol. 27 83-101

Subject Categories

History of Technology

Information Science

Information Systemes, Social aspects



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Latest update

7/4/2018 1