Application of technology assessments to co-learning for regional transformation: a case study of biomass energy systems in Tanegashima

Yasunori Kikuchi, Miwa Nakai, Yuichiro Kanematsu, Kazutake Oosawa, Tatsuya Okubo, Yuko Oshita, Yasuhiro Fukushima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Japan is faced with sustainability challenges such as resource security and depopulation. Well-coordinated, multifaceted actions including a shift from imported fossil to locally available renewable resources and empowering of rural areas are vital in tackling these challenges. Here, we present our co-learning approach to practice the multifaceted actions with a case study on Tanegashima, an isolated Japanese island. In these actions, thorough understanding of the feasible technologies, the locally available resources, and the socioeconomic aspects of the local community should be shared among the stakeholders to acquire the momentum for a change. In addition to the technoeconomic analysis, several other analyses were conducted to reveal the concerns of respective stakeholders, share the understandings on the possibilities of technology options, and their socioeconomic implications on local sustainability. Tools such as the life cycle assessment, input–output analysis, and choice experiments based on questionnaire surveys on the residents' preferences are used for the analyses. The stakeholders were provided with the results during a 5-year period, through more than 30 co-learning events, e.g., symposiums, seminars, and workshops. A total of ca. 1400 participants from residents, local industries, public organizations, and a high school joined these events. These opportunities gradually converted the concerns of the local stakeholders on their future regional energy systems into expectations and yielded constructive alternatives in technology implementation that can use the locally available resources. The changes in residents’ mind set through the co-learning processes induced by the contributions of the outsiders, providing professional insights acquired from the analyses and through the interactions with local stakeholders were examined in this study. This study demonstrates that the holistic incorporation of scientific technology assessments into co-learning can help coordinate the collaboration between researchers and local stakeholders toward regional transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1473-1494
Number of pages22
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 1


  • Biodiesel
  • Choice experiment
  • Input–output analysis
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Structural path analysis
  • Sugarcane

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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