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

Malte Schwoon (), Floortje Alkemade, Koen Frenken and Marko Hekkert

No FNU-114, Working Papers from Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: Alternative fuels; Hydrogen; Lock-in; Fitness-landscape (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B52 L92 O33 Q42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 42 pages
Date: 2006-08, Revised 2006-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene, nep-evo and nep-ino
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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