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Lock-in and the transition to hydrogen cars. When should governments intervene?

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Abstract

The density of fuel filling stations influences consumers' utility of private car transport. Thus, to the extent that different modes of private transport require different fuels, there may exist a network externality in the consumption of private transport. We investigate this in a formal model of the market for private transport. In the model there are two competing technologies; today's internal combustion engine based on fossil fuels, and tomorrow's hydrogen car. Due to the network externality there may exist several market equilibriums, of which one is likely to Pareto dominate the other(s). Thus, a lock-in situation is possible. On the other hand, if either the costs of establishing hydrogen filling stations is too high or the hydrogen car technology is still in its infancy, the only equilibrium is the current internal combustion engine equilibrium. Hence, apart from internalizing the environmental externality on gasoline cars, the government has no reasons to intervene before the technology is ripe. And even then, governments should take great care so as not to create a situation of excess momentum.

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  • Mads Greaker & Tom-Reiel Heggedal, 2007. "Lock-in and the transition to hydrogen cars. When should governments intervene?," Discussion Papers 516, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:516
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    File URL: http://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp516.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Bento, Nuno, 2010. "Is carbon lock-in blocking investments in the hydrogen economy? A survey of actors' strategies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 7189-7199, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Lock-in; Path dependency; Hydrogen economy; Climate change policy;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L62 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Automobiles; Other Transportation Equipment; Related Parts and Equipment
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources

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    1. Studies on the automobile industry

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