Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Community Development and Applied Economics

First Advisor

Asim Zia


Energy access remains a significant challenge in nations lacking access to resources and strong infrastructure systems, creating barriers to economic development and to increased standards of living. Small scale biomass gasification energy (BGE) systems have been developed to meet energy needs in rural areas, creating synergies between agricultural and agro-forestry systems through utilization of biomass feedstock for energy generation. The sustainability of such systems requires sophisticated planning and coordination of the biomass supply chain.

The goal of this thesis is to investigate and improve structural and process related characteristics of sustainability assessments for small scale bio-energy systems, specifically focusing on establishment and management of biomass supply chains through the development and dissemination of a generic sustainability assessment framework for biomass supply chains of small-scale BGE systems in rural East Africa. Building on a preliminary sustainability assessment framework (Christensen, 2013; Joerg, 2013) this research develops an assessment tool designed to capture sustainability requirements of the biomass supply chain in the ecological, social, and economic spheres through testing on three case studies in rural Uganda. Application and analysis of a preliminary framework on pilot projects in a rural east African context using Multi Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) methodologies contributes to development of strategies for energy system analysis and building stakeholder capacity to incorporate social, economic, and environmental considerations. The assessment process is outlined, including scoring, data collection, contextual considerations. Model application is discussed, including the impact of weighting on decision outcomes, uncertainty management, sensitivity analysis, and identification of tradeoffs among criteria. Finally, discussion of tool usefulness verses usability contributes to bridging academic research with practitioner priorities.



Number of Pages

160 p.