Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1186/s13705-020-00270-5
Licence creative commons licence
Title (Primary) Stakeholder perceptions about sustainability governance in the German biogas sector
Author Horschig, T.; Schaubach, K.; Sutor, C.; Thrän, D.
Source Titel Energy, Sustainability and Society
Year 2020
Volume 10
Page From art. 36
Language englisch
Keywords Sustainability; Governance; Biogas supply chain; Stakeholders


Since the steady growth of the German biogas sector, its sustainability is subject to constant scrutiny, especially economic and environmental sustainability. Public concerns about sustainability of biogas started with the issue of energy crop cultivation in the 2010s. To steer sustainability in the biogas sector, a broad variety of regulations and acts were enacted, mainly via top-down legislation making. But in order to govern sustainability in every step of the value chain, involvement of numerous stakeholders in the biogas sector is necessary. This paper will address the question: What are the perceptions of the relevant stakeholders in the biogas sector regarding various sustainability issues and what are their expectations?


Following an instrumental approach, three steps were initially undertaken for the systematic analysis of the stakeholder landscape, namely (1) stakeholder identification, (2) stakeholder categorization, and (3) investigation of stakeholder relationships. In addition, a theoretical mapping was performed to identify those actors, who most likely impact the implementation of biogas value chains, or are strongly affected by this implementation. These were then subject to surveys via questionnaires and semi-structured interviews to gather information on their sustainability governance perception.


Results indicate that key players are farmers and biogas associations due to anchoring in agricultural sector, along with environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and policy makers. Furthermore, the surveyed stakeholders agree on regulating sustainability at national level, while tending toward neutral or even disagreeing for the regulation of sustainability at local and international level. They also agree that certification and standards can be an effective tool for compliant sustainability governance.


This study revealed a clear expectation gap regarding the transfer of the current energy legislation in a bio-economy and how sustainability shall be steered then (mandatory/voluntary and local (national) level/international level). The surveyed stakeholders expect transparent and clear rules from the government to steer sustainability that they currently do not perceive with regard to the expectation gap. In order to integrate the different stakeholders in the bio-economy development instead of confronting them with opaque legislation making, it is important to clearly communicate not only the opportunities but also the requirements that come along with the implementation of a bio-economy.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Horschig, T., Schaubach, K., Sutor, C., Thrän, D. (2020):
Stakeholder perceptions about sustainability governance in the German biogas sector
Energy Sustain. Soc. 10 , art. 36 10.1186/s13705-020-00270-5