A sustainable supply chain study of the Indian bioenergy sector

  • Vimal Eswarlal

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In India, more than one third of the population do not currently have access to modern energy services. Biomass to energy, known as bioenergy, has immense potential for addressing India’s energy poverty. Small scale decentralised bioenergy systems require low investment compared to other renewable technologies and have environmental and social benefits over fossil fuels. Though they have historically been promoted in India through favourable policies, many studies argue that the sector’s potential is underutilised due to sustainable supply chain barriers. Moreover, a significant research gap exists. This research addresses the gap by analysing the potential sustainable supply chain risks of decentralised small scale bioenergy projects. This was achieved through four research objectives, using various research methods along with multiple data collection techniques. Firstly, a conceptual framework was developed to identify and analyse these risks. The framework is founded on existing literature and gathered inputs from practitioners and experts. Following this, sustainability and supply chain issues within the sector were explored. Sustainability issues were collated into 27 objectives, and supply chain issues were categorised according to related processes. Finally, the framework was validated against an actual bioenergy development in Jodhpur, India. Applying the framework to the action research project had some significant impacts upon the project’s design. These include the development of water conservation arrangements, the insertion of auxiliary arrangements, measures to increase upstream supply chain resilience, and the development of a first aid action plan. More widely, the developed framework and identified issues will help practitioners to take necessary precautionary measures and address them quickly and cost effectively. The framework contributes to the bioenergy decision support system literature and the sustainable supply chain management field by incorporating risk analysis and introducing the concept of global and organisational sustainability in supply chains. The sustainability issues identified contribute to existing knowledge through the exploration of a small scale and developing country context. The analysis gives new insights into potential risks affecting the whole bioenergy supply chain.
Date of Award20 Feb 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPawan Budhwar (Supervisor) & Prasanta Dey (Supervisor)


  • biomass
  • decision support system
  • framework
  • sustainability issues
  • supply chain issues

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