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The Role of Lock-in Mechanisms in Transition Processes: The Case of Energy for Road Transport


This paper revisits the theoretical concepts of lock-in mechanisms to analyse transition processes in energy production and road transportation in the Nordic countries, focussing on three technology platforms: advanced biofuels, e-mobility and hydrogen and fuel cell electrical vehicles. The paper is based on a comparative analysis of case studies.
The main lock-in mechanisms analysed are learning effects, economies of scale, economies of scope, network externalities, informational increasing returns, technological interrelatedness, collective action, institutional learning effects and the differentiation of power.
We show that very different path dependencies have been reinforced by the lock-in mechanisms. Hence, the characteristics of existing regimes set the preconditions for the development of new transition pathways. The incumbent socio-technical regime is not just fossil-based, but may also include mature niches specialised in the exploitation of renewable sources. This implies a need to distinguish between lock-in mechanisms favouring the old fossil-based regime, well-established (mature) renewable energy niches, or new pathways.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Denmark ; Finland ; Norway ; Sweden

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