Ett nationellt drivmedel: etanol i svensk politik 1924-1934
2013 (Swedish)In: Scandia, ISSN 0036-5483, Vol. 79, no 1, 63-86 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
This article investigates the political efforts to establish ethanol as a national fuel in Sweden in 1924 - 1934. Drawing on official records - the transcripts of parliamentary debates, governmental commission reports, and government bills and legislation - ethanol is considered as a technological and political artefact, with a particular focus on a strongly ideological fuel policy intended to bring about technological change.
At the time, considerable political effort went into finding and establishing a national fuel, efficient and abundant enough to support the nation's requirements for essential products. This was by no means a uniquely Swedish undertaking. Nation-states all over the industrialized world sought domestic fuel alternatives, prompted by the expected depletion of oil reserves and the fear of renewed international conflict. In that period, Swedish ethanol was distilled from fermented sulphite lye, a waste product from paper and pulp production. It was therefore presented as a lucrative solution for a waste problem, and, as it was produced within the nation-state's borders, a promising wartime surrogate. However, ethanol was more expensive than petrol, which made it less marketable during peacetime. To cover losses, the ethanol industry requested state support in the form of tax exemptions and legislation to force petrol importers to blend ethanol into all marketed petrol.
Those who argued in favour of the ethanol industry's requests were mainly right-wing politicians, who based their arguments on a nationalist ideology that national collective benefit justified state intervention in the free market. Opposition was mainly mounted by a faction in the Social Democrat party. For them, any measure that made products more expensive for consumers was unthinkable. They also argued that the ethanol industry had reached the end of the line; any production without the means and capacity to support itself should make way for its competitors. Concerns about the anticipated international conflict, however, led the Social Democrat minister for finance, Ernst Wigforss, to concede to the demands of the ethanol industry. In 1934, he thus proposed legislation that largely corresponded to claims made by right-wing politicians and the influential forestry industry, of which ethanol production was a part.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 79, no 1, 63-86 p.
ethanol, political technologies, alternative fuels, interwar policy, controversy
etanol, politik, drivmedelsalternativ, alternativ teknik, mellankrigstid, tekniknationalism, beredskap
History History of Technology
Research subject History; History Of Sciences and Ideas
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-57938OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-57938DiVA: diva2:545772
ProjectsFuel of the Future