University of Surrey: Research Fellow: Enhancing Sustainable Biogas Communities Through Social Innovation

By Robert Lyons on 3rd July 2017
Closing Date: 
Monday, July 31, 2017

We are currently 18 months into a three-year EU project, ISABEL, funded by Horizon 2020. We are seeking a researcher to build on the work already done in facilitating the development of biogas energy communities.  Work thus far has focussed on promoting and designing community biogas “ecosystems” connecting waste treatment, food production, heat and energy and local social benefits rather than simply energy production alone. The post would suit someone with an interest in sustainable community energy, or bioenergy, with extensive practical experience of interacting with communities and community leaders and with enthusiasm for social innovation, community business and community-led approaches.  On the ground experience in community engagement, an innovative and creative approach and a commitment to practical, socially beneficial results are essential. A background in the social sciences is desirable although not essential.

The ISABEL project aims to promote community biogas in the EU by supporting and stimulating biogas consumption and production initiatives through processes of social innovation and public participation.  The ISABEL consortium includes partners from Greece, France, Germany, the UK, and Belgium. The project focuses on three case study areas:  Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and surrounding counties in the UK; Baden-Württemberg in Germany and Central and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace in Greece.  There is also scope to develop biogas community projects in other parts of the UK as opportunities arise. The researcher will be mainly involved with the UK case studies, but will also need to monitor, evaluate and carry out comparative analyses between all three countries.  In the UK, the opportunities for community biogas are in improving collective action and coordination of actors, in identifying new values and revenues beyond energy feed-in-tariffs, and ultimately in creating novel forms of business and social enterprise.  The researcher’s tasks will include progressing and developing stakeholder engagement, promoting the idea of community biogas, facilitating community evaluation, co-design and business planning processes, interfacing between regional stakeholders and the rest of the project, preparing EU reports and articles about the project for publication. The researcher will be expected to make use of a variety of novel, social innovation tools from different project partners, such as social media platforms and participatory complex systems design methods as well as bringing their own ideas to the table.