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Flexible transition strategies towards future well-to-wheel chains: an evolutionary modelling approach

  • Malte Schwoon

    ()

    (Statkraft, Duesseldorf)

  • Floortje Alkemade
  • Koen Frenken
  • Marko P. Hekkert

Well to wheel (WTW) analyses mainly focus on alternative road fuel/vehicle systems that are very different from the current crude oil based individual transport system. A large share of WTW chains evaluated require changes in the energy source, new fuel production facilities, different fuel distribution systems and also modifications of the vehicles. An immediate transition to such a new system would be an unprecedented technological discontinuity. Historical examples of successful technological changes are characterized by stepwise transitions of subsystems. In this paper, we present a model that identifies likely sequences of stepwise transitions in analogy to the fitness landscape model in evolutionary biology. Applying this methodology allows for a dynamic interpretation of otherwise static WTW information. We show that sequences of transitions are path dependent, so that current decisions predetermine the future WTW system. We, therefore, argue that flexible initial transition steps that allow for different transition paths later on are favorable. Results suggest that improvements of vehicle technologies are most flexible if decision makers focus on decreasing WTW energy requirements. A full transition to diesel, as a first step, is advisable if WTW greenhouse gases should be reduced.

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File URL: http://www.fnu.zmaw.de/fileadmin/fnu-files/publication/working-papers/WP-FNU-114_Flexible_transition_strategies.pdf
File Function: First version, 2006
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Paper provided by Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University in its series Working Papers with number FNU-114.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision: Aug 2006
Handle: RePEc:sgc:wpaper:114
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Web page: http://www.fnu.zmaw.de/

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  1. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
  2. Dosi, Giovanni, 1993. "Technological paradigms and technological trajectories : A suggested interpretation of the determinants and directions of technical change," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 102-103, April.
  3. Hekkert, Marko P. & Hendriks, Franka H. J. F. & Faaij, Andre P. C. & Neelis, Maarten L., 2005. "Natural gas as an alternative to crude oil in automotive fuel chains well-to-wheel analysis and transition strategy development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 579-594, March.
  4. Bentley, R. W., 2002. "Global oil & gas depletion: an overview," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 189-205, February.
  5. Levinthal, Daniel A, 1998. "The Slow Pace of Rapid Technological Change: Gradualism and Punctuation in Technological Change," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 217-47, June.
  6. Ogden, Joan M. & Williams, Robert H. & Larson, Eric D., 2004. "Societal lifecycle costs of cars with alternative fuels/engines," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 7-27, January.
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