Chiong Meza, C.M. and G.P.J. Dijkema: Transition to renewable energy sources: Some lessons of the Brazilian case, pp. 1-10. In: Proceedings of the Annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), Feb. 15-18th (2009). At: New York, NY, USA. Eds.: Sabine Carey and Gerald Schneider. International proceeding (refereed)
Triggered by the distress around climate change and security of supply, European countries struggle to diversify their energy portfolio with other energy sources while producing less of CO2 emissions. To avoid a system collapse they prefer a transition. This situation, however, is not new. Already thirty years ago, Brazil started its transition to a less oil-dependent economy, which was triggered by the oil crisis, a drop in sugar prices, and low employment rates. Although the pace and pattern of their economic evolution was variable, Brazil has reached a stable bio-ethanol economy today.
This paper analyses the historical bio-ethanol transition of Brazil using an approach elaborated on the synergy of Institutional Economics, Social Theory, Socio-Technical Regimes and Actor-Network Theory. This multi-disciplinary approach portrays the dynamics at the agent, the interaction and the system layers and the relevance of information feedback structures for giving shape to the ethanol economy in Brazil. It is concluded that, despite the historical and geographical differences, European countries can benefit from the experience of the Brazilian transition when struggling for a low CO2 emission energy portfolio, namely relevance of an objective-oriented transition, role of the government as initiator of a transition process, and how to deal with the risks of a direct institutional transplantation.