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changing the rules of the game to influence the diffusion of alternative fuels

Changing the Rules of the Game to Influence the Diffusion of Alternative Fuels
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Patil, A. and P.M. Herder: Changing the Rules of the Game to Influence the Diffusion of Alternative Fuels, pp. 1-17. In: Proceedings of the 33st IAEE International Conference, The Future of Energy: Global Challenges, Diverse Solutions, 6-9 June (2010). At: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Paulien Herder
Anish Patil

The current energy infrastructure, based mainly on fossil fuels, is unsustainable over the longer term – primarily due to its detrimental impact on the environment and eventual depletion of fossil fuels. Experts agree that alternative fuels will play a crucial role in the transition towards a sustainable energy infrastructure. Hence, instead of waiting for the fossil fuels to run out, there is an urgent need to explore alternative fuels. Changing energy system is a daunting task, which will require large capital cost for building of the technological components and at the same time will require changes in the social components. It is not always clear where and how the change process should start and which actors should take the lead. We observe that the wide adoption of alternative fuels has not yet taken place and that policy makers are at a loss for the right tools to guide the changes needed. But there is even a greater problem as the policy makers do not know exactly which direction to go, let alone how to shape the system development in that direction. Energy system is a complex socio-technical system, characterized by multiple interactions and multiple levels between the various components of the system. These interactions are governed by rules, and the objective of this paper is to gather insight about the most dominant rules that induces or blocks the diffusion of alternative fuels. This research proposes that a systems perspective, which allows the collective analysis of the social and technical components, can give a richer insight into the interactions present in the energy system, and such richer insight will help in encouraging the diffusion of alternative fuels.

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