Responses of agricultural bioenergy sectors in Brandenburg (germany) to climate, economic and legal changes: an application of Holling's adaptive cycle

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Authors: P. Grundmann, M. Ehlers, G. Uckert

Publication Year: 2012


Journal: Energy Journal

Volume: 48

Categories: Organizational Change, Adaptive Cycle


Agricultural bioenergy production is subject to dynamics such as yield fluctuations, volatile prices, resource competition, new regulation and policy, innovation and climate change. This raises questions, to what extent bioenergy production is able to adapt to changes and overcome critical events. These dynamics have important implications for effective policy development. Using a case study method, which draws on various data sources, we investigate in detail how agricultural bioenergy sectors in the German State of Brandenburg adapted to diverse past events. The case analysis rests on the adaptive- cycle concept and the system properties potential, connectedness and resilience as defined by Holling and Gunderson (2002a). Our case study concludes that Brandenburg’s biogas sector has a low potential and connectedness within the system, and a low resilience against crop failures. The biofuels sector displays similar properties in the short term. In the medium term the potential could increase in both sectors. The properties imply risks and opportunities for biogas production and the possibility to develop towards a stage with a higher potential and a higher connectedness. But adaptive capacity is limited and there are certain barriers for the agricultural bioenergy sectors to overcome potentially critical states. Policy needs to be tailored accordingly.