Designing biomass policy: the political economy of renewable energy for net zero

Daniel Taylor*, Katie Chong, Mirjam Röder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The climate, ecological, and energy crises require change in our political, economic, and societal systems to ensure we decouple humanity from a reliance on fossil fuels, prevent rising carbon dioxide emissions, and develop sustainable solutions for people and the planet. As well as technical processes, renewable energy transitions are processes of social, environmental, and economic change which have the potential to challenge the status quo. This status quo determines who benefits from energy, where wealth is created, and the level of inequality between stakeholders within our energy systems. The politicization of energy transitions motivates stakeholders to engage in the policymaking process to ensure any trade-offs associated with policy changes benefit them. Bioenergy is unique amongst renewable energy sources as it is inherently linked to biomass extraction from our natural environment and because biomass is the only source of renewable carbon. However, this further politicizes its use and is a source of controversy in public debate. Polarized perspectives in the public debate on biomass policy allow stakeholders to assert themselves as experts on the topic and to make authoritative claims that further their interests to influence policy development. Therefore, political and economic drivers shape and influence the sustainability and success of proposed policies. Despite this, there is little research into the nontechnical factors influencing the design of sustainable biomass policy for net zero. This research highlights how political economy impacts the success of renewable energy technologies in replacing fossil fuels and the implications for using bioenergy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere512
Number of pages17
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Energy and Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2024 The Authors. WIREs Energy and Environment published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Data Access Statement

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analyzed in this study.


  • biomass
  • net zero
  • policy
  • political economy
  • renewable energy


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