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Cumulative causation in biofuels development: a critical comparison of the Netherlands and Sweden
Environmental Systems Analysis, Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden.
Innovation Studies, Department of Innovation and Environmental Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Innovation Studies, Department of Innovation and Environmental Sciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Environmental Systems Analysis, Department of Energy and Environment, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden.
2008 (English)In: Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, ISSN 0953-7325, E-ISSN 1465-3990, Vol. 20, no 5, 593-612 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Supporting the development and diffusion of sustainable innovations has become a dominanttopic on the political agenda of many countries. However, this has proven to be a difficult task. Toincrease insight in such processes, this paper takes biofuel technologies in the mobility sector asthe topic of a comparative case study. Various national governments have supported innovationtrajectories around biofuels. We analyse, assess and compare two such trajectories as theyhave developed so far: one in the Netherlands and one in Sweden. A Technological InnovationSystem (TIS) approach is applied. A TIS is constituted by actors, networks and institutions,that are to be gradually constructed around a technology. We analyse whether governmentsand entrepreneurs have succeeded in developing seven key processes, or system functions,necessary for the development and diffusion of biofuel technologies. By analysing the build-upof system functions over time we identify virtuous and vicious forms of cumulative causation.The Dutch and Swedish TISs for biofuels are followed from 1990 to 2005. Our comparisonshows that, due to the fulfilment of system functions and the emergence of cumulative causation,the Swedish TIS has reached a market expansion and broad social implementation of biofuels,whereas the Dutch TIS has established considerably less.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, Volume 20, Issue 5 September 2008 , pages 593 - 612 , 2008. Vol. 20, no 5, 593-612 p.
Keyword [en]
technological innovation systems; system functions; biofuels
National Category
Energy Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-25659DOI: 10.1080/09537320802292826ISI: 000258724200005Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-51249099936OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-25659DiVA: diva2:1161045
Available from: 2017-11-29 Created: 2017-11-29 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Environmental Assessment and Strategic Technology Choice: The Case of Renewable Transport Fuels
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Environmental Assessment and Strategic Technology Choice: The Case of Renewable Transport Fuels
2008 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The scale of the required changes is huge, and time is limited if we are to avoid the most severe effects of climate change. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road transport, several fuels and electricity originating from renewable energy sources have been proposed, all of them in different stages of development and with various and shifting environmental impacts. This thesis aims at increasing the usefulness of environmental assessments of emerging technologies as a basis for strategic technology choice. Recommendations for the design and interpretation of such assessments are presented, with a special focus on life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. A long time perspective, the possibility of system change, and the inclusion of socio–technical change processes allows for the revision of methodological assumptions normally made in LCA of current products. To guide the selection of technologies, there is need for assessment both of technology and of interventions. For the assessment of technology, an attributional approach is applied. Paper I discusses and tests the feasible futures and future performance to be considered in attributional LCAs. The results indicate that the environmental impact attributable to a number of selected fuels, as well as the ranking of them, largely depend on assumptions regarding background systems and by-product use. For the assessment of interventions, a consequential approach is applied. Extensive studies of socio–technical change processes contribute insight into relevant cause–effect chains that can be included in environmental assessments of emerging technologies. A comparison between the Swedish and the Dutch innovation systems for renewable fuels reveals the unfolding of dynamics influenced by shared background factors (Paper II). An investigation of the Swedish history of alternative fuels is used in developing a framework for analysing interaction between emerging technological systems (Paper III). Insights into socio–technical change processes are then used to elaborate scenarios for the future development of renewable fuels in Sweden resulting from current policy choices (Paper IV). In a final paper (Paper V), historical and future cause–effect chains are taken into account in a consequential LCA of ethanol of varying origins in Sweden for the 1990–2020 period. It is concluded that for emerging technologies in an early stage of development, the contribution of an intervention to system change may be more important than the direct change in environmental impact. Finally, it is suggested that all aspects of socio–technical change and the resulting environmental impact may not have to be included in quantitative environmental assessments, such as LCA. ‘Environmental assessment’ could very well include a group of parallel studies that illuminate different cause–effect chains resulting in changed environmental impact, and that are part of a society-wide learning process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Gothenburg: Chalmers University of Technology, 2008. 88 p.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola, ISSN 0346-718X ; 2876
Keyword
environmental assessment, life cycle assessment (LCA), socio-technical change, strategic technology choice, renewable fuels
National Category
Energy Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-25660 (URN)978-91-7385-195-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2008-11-21, HC3, Gothenburg, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Paper III och V var i manuskript-form vid avhandlingens publicerande.

Available from: 2017-11-29 Created: 2017-11-29 Last updated: 2017-11-29Bibliographically approved

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