Exploring technology paths: The development of alternative transport fuels in Sweden 2005-2020
Conference contribution, 2005
In this paper we use a socio-technical scenario approach to illustrate how the development of alternative transport fuels in Sweden can be influenced by different policy choices. With the present situation as a starting point, we introduce different feasible scenarios for the development of alternative transport fuels in Sweden from 2005-2020. The scenario policies differ mainly on two points: (i) the commitment and economic incentives aiming at a rapid introduction of existing alternative transport fuels and (ii) the economic resources allocated to R&D of new, more efficient alternatives. The main focus on the first point in our market-oriented scenario and on the second in our technology-oriented scenario has implications for the development of the stocks and structures of the socio-techno-environmental system (STE-system).
A first phase in the development is seen between 2005 and 2010. In the market-oriented scenario, a domestic production and a relatively widespread use of alternative transport fuels create advocates for these alternatives among producers and users. Limited explicit knowledge is gained, but legitimacy for alternatives to petrol and diesel is created. Physical artefacts are adjusted to the present alternative fuels, which are more similar to petrol and diesel than to new alternatives. In the technology-oriented scenario authorities and researchers are key actors. A high technical competence is built up in connection with pilot production plants for new alternative fuels. Both petrol and diesel are questioned, while the early alternatives are criticised for being too costly and having limited potential. A second phase, between 2011 and 2020, begins with a bifurcation of both scenarios, where one path from each is characterised by stagnation and one from each is characterised by growth, with regard to the potential for large-scale introduction of biofuels or other renewable fuels in Sweden.
Our four scenarios, ending in 2020, can be seen as somewhat extreme examples of feasible outcomes resulting from policy choices made today. Numerous stocks and structures within the STE-system are affected and interact, to determine further changes of the system. In the market-oriented scenario, we illustrate consequences of breaking the dominance of entrenched technologies and demonstrating a growing market potential for alternative fuels and vehicles, while we in the technology-oriented scenario point out the value of keeping variety among niches at the early stage of a transition. The latter may add to the capability to respond to exogenous shifts in a way that is beneficial for the transition.