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Sociotechnical system studies of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from energy and transport systems
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Energy Systems. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

It is agreed that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy and transport systems must be reduced. Technical means exist to reduce GHG emissions from these sources. However, these emission-reduction measures are not implemented to a high enough degree. In this thesis, it is assumed that this is because the reduction of GHG emissions from energy and transport systems is a wicked problem. Unlike a tame problem, which has an unambiguous definition and a finite number of well-defined solutions, a wicked problem is difficult to define, and its solutions are often intertwined with the problem. The “wickedness” of a wicked problem lies in the extreme difficulty of solving the problem, rather than in the problem itself.

In this thesis, the wicked problem of reducing GHG emissions from energy and transport systems is studied by applying a sociotechnical systems approach to the introduction of renewable vehicle fuels, the production and use of biogas, the introduction of electric vehicles, and the sustainability of district heating. In addition, this thesis discusses how energy issues are approached in different contexts, and what implications different actions can have on GHG emissions. The analysis shows that a sociotechnical approach to energy systems analysis can offer insights with regard to how system boundaries are handled within GHG-emission assessments and energy and transport policy. By problematising the use of system boundaries in GHG-emission assessments, this thesis explains how attempts to reduce GHG emissions could add to the wicked problem of GHGemission reductions from energy and transport systems. GHG-emission assessments can give very different results depending on system boundaries. While these results can be used in attempts to solve this wicked problem, they can also contribute to complicating it. As solutions to wicked problems are mainly found in policy, the use of system boundaries in policy is studied. Results show that narrow system boundaries in energy and transport policy can hamper sustainable development of energy and transport systems. The use of wider system boundaries could facilitate approaches to solve the wicked problem of reducing GHG emissions from energy and transport systems by making the consequences and effects of policy actions more clearly visible.

Abstract [sv]

Det är välkänt att energi- och transportsystemens utsläpp av växthusgaser måste minska. Tekniska förutsättningar för att minska utsläppen av växthusgaser från användning av energi och transporter existerar. Ändå genomförs inte åtgärder för att minska utsläpp av växthusgaser i tillräcklig utsträckning. I föreliggande avhandling antas detta bero på att minskandet av utsläpp av växthusgaser från energi- och transportsystem är ett ’wicked problem’. Ett sådant problem är svårdefinierat och motståndskraftigt mot lösningar, eftersom lösningarna ofta är sammanflätade med problemet.

I avhandlingen studeras frågan om hur utsläpp av växthusgaser från energi- och transportsystem kan minska. Introduktion av förnybara drivmedel, produktion och användning av biogas, introduktion av elbilar, samt hållbarhet i fjärrvärmesystem är områden som studeras med hjälp av ett sociotekniskt angreppssätt. Detta innebär att teknik studeras som en integrerad del av samhället, där teknik både påverkar och påverkas av aktörer och sociala strukturer.

Analysen visar att ett sociotekniskt angreppssätt kan ge insikter om hur systemgränser hanteras inom energisystemforskning samt inom energi- och transportpolicy. Värderingar av växthusgasutsläpp, som utförs inom energisystemforskning, kan ge vitt skilda resultat beroende på hur det studerade systemet avgränsats. Resultaten kan användas i försök att minska utsläpp av växthusgaser från energi- och transportsystem, men detta kan leda till att problemet försvåras ytterligare. I avhandlingen förklaras detta genom problematisering av systemavgränsningar i värderingar av växthusgasutsläpp. Eftersom lösningar på ’wicked problems’ oftast återfinns inom policy, studeras även systemavgränsningar i policy. Det visas att snäva systemgränser inom energi- och transportpolicy kan hindra hållbar utveckling av energi- och transportsystem. Vidgade systemgränser skulle kunna underlätta ansatser att minska utsläpp av växthusgaser från energi och transportsystem genom att synliggöra konsekvenser och effekter av policyåtgärder.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. , 54 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1656
Keyword [en]
Energy systems, transport systems, greenhouse gas emissions, energy policy, transport policy, sociotechnical systems analysis, wicked problem
Keyword [sv]
Energisystem, transportsystem, växthusgasutsläpp, energipolicy, transportpolicy, socioteknisk systemanalys, wicked problem
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Energy Systems
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-116685DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-116685ISBN: 978-91-7519-082-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-116685DiVA: diva2:799868
Public defence
2015-05-08, ACAS, hus A, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-03-31 Created: 2015-03-31 Last updated: 2015-04-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Bridging the implementation gap: Combining backcasting and policy analysis to study renewable energy in urban road transport
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bridging the implementation gap: Combining backcasting and policy analysis to study renewable energy in urban road transport
2015 (English)In: Transport Policy, ISSN 0967-070X, E-ISSN 1879-310X, Vol. 37, 72-82 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper combines backcasting and policy analysis to identify the opportunities for and barriers to the increased use of renewable energy and energy-efficient vehicles in an urban road transport system, namely, that of Stockholm, Sweden, in 2030. The combination of methods could bridge the implementation gap between scenario-based research and actual policy implementation and thus increase the chances of research being implemented in practice. In the case study, backcasting identifies a need for diverse fuels and vehicles and for immediate policy action. However, analysis of policy integration demonstrates that such action is unlikely given current policy structures. The fundamental lack of integration between energy and transport policy obstructs measures to increase the use of renewable fuels and more energy-efficient vehicles, which in turn obstructs the reduction of CO2 emissions from transport. The combination of backcasting and policy analysis is demonstrated to improve our understanding of the prerequisites for transitioning to a system based on renewable energy, and could thus be useful in further research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015
Keyword
Urban road transport, Renewable fuels, Energy efficiency, Transport policy, Energy policy, Scenario studies
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112506 (URN)10.1016/j.tranpol.2014.10.014 (DOI)000347594100008 ()
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency
Available from: 2014-11-28 Created: 2014-11-28 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. Policy for biomass utilisation in energy and transport systems: The case of biogas in Stockholm, Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Policy for biomass utilisation in energy and transport systems: The case of biogas in Stockholm, Sweden
2012 (English)In: World Renewable Energy Forum(WREF) 2012. Including 41st ASES Annual Conference, 37th National PassiveSolar Conference, 7th Renewable Energy Policy and MarketingConference, World Renewable Energy Congress XII, andColorado Renewable Energy Society (CRES) Annual Conference. Denver, Colorado, USA13 – 17 May 2012, Volume 1 of 6 / [ed] Cheryl Fellows, 2012, 4758-4765 p.Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This interdisciplinary paper explains how biogas policy processes affect energy and transport systems in Stockholm, Sweden. The aim is to discuss future implications of the political biogas agenda, and analyse how municipal organic waste should be utilised to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions. An energy systems analysis illustrates the environmental impact of biogas production and utilisation, while planning practice and political attitudes are studied in interviews with policy-makers. Conclusions include that demand for biogas as vehicle fuel and the influence of particular actors has led to an extensive political campaign for biogas. However, to maximise emission reductions, Stockholm’s waste should ideally be used to produce electricity, not biogas. With the current narrow system perspective and lack of long-term strategies, increased utilisation of renewable fuels in the transport system may be impeded.

National Category
Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-85508 (URN)9781622760923 (ISBN)
Conference
World Renewable Energy Forum 2012, Real Science. Real Solutions. Real World, Denver, Colorado, 13-17 May 2012
Available from: 2012-11-23 Created: 2012-11-21 Last updated: 2015-03-31Bibliographically approved
3. Waste(d) potential: a socio-technical analysis of biogas production and use in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Waste(d) potential: a socio-technical analysis of biogas production and use in Sweden
2015 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 98, 107-115 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper takes a socio-technical perspective on Swedish biogas production and use, in order to identify characteristics which may improve and increase biogas production. Biogas could potentially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Swedish road transport by 25%, and to that end transport policy endorses the use of biogas as vehicle fuel. Currently, however, only a small fraction of the biogas production potential is utilised. By analysing how social and technological context has influenced production and use of biogas over the past 70 years, using concepts from the theory of Large Technical Systems (LTS), features of importance for increasing biogas production are identified. Biogas is shown to be a complex issue, with different functions within the energy, transport and waste management systems. As there is not one coherent biogas system but many individual systems, with different objectives, local and sectorial measures are required in order to increase biogas production. In particular, the importance of biogas production as waste management is identified. In order to utilise the biogas potential and reduce GHG emissions from road transport, policy-makers and researchers are advised to address the plurality in biogas systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015
Keyword
Biogas, socio-technical systems analysis, greenhouse gas emissions, waste treatment
National Category
Energy Systems Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112507 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.02.015 (DOI)000356194300011 ()
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency
Available from: 2014-11-28 Created: 2014-11-28 Last updated: 2017-12-05
4. Climate impact of the electrification of road transport in a short-term perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Climate impact of the electrification of road transport in a short-term perspective
2013 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

To reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the transport sector, replacing conventional vehicles with electric vehicles (EVs) is considered a desirable alternative. Due to increased integration of renewable energy sources in electricity generation, EVs are often considered emission-free although current electricity generation is largely dependent on fossil fuels. By 2018, the European Union (EU) requires biofuels to ensure 60% emission reductions in a lifecycle perspective, in order to avoid unsustainable production. No such criteria apply to EVs, although several European countries aim for an EV mass market by 2020. This study aims to show how a rapid, large-scale deployment of EVs will affect the GHG emissions, using Sweden as an example. GHG emissions from the energy use of electric and conventional vehicles are compared, applying a life cycle perspective on the fuels. Results show that with assumed electricity generation, EVs cause GHG emissions 25% higher than emissions from conventional vehicles. Hence, in a short-term perspective, a large-scale introduction of EVs is not beneficial for the climate. Nonetheless, a comprehensive approach to EVs, similar to EUs biofuel sustainability policy, may help reduce GHG emissions from the electricity generation system.

Keyword
Electric vehicles, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, Environment
National Category
Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112508 (URN)
Conference
13th World Conference on Transport Research (WCTR 2013), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 15-18, 2013
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency
Available from: 2014-11-28 Created: 2014-11-28 Last updated: 2015-03-31
5. The role of electric vehicles in EU transport and energy policy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of electric vehicles in EU transport and energy policy
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper combines two approaches to analysing the role of electric vehicles (EVs) in society. It uses an explorative approach to analyse the framing of EVs in European Union (EU) policy, and identifies the opportunities for EVs to reduce climate impact in a sociotechnical systems analysis, based on previous research. By relating the two approaches to each other, this paper illuminates the complexity of the sustainability issue in transport policy. The aim of this paper is to identify what problems EVs are meant to solve according to EU policy, how EVs could address these problems, and what effects the framing of EVs could have on the climate impact of the European transport system.

This paper concludes that EVs are a solution to the problem of changes in the European road transport system, which is brought on by the need to reach climate goals and reduce oil dependence. However, the introduction of EVs risks missing sustainability effects in a wider system perspective, as current policy only concerns the technology itself, and not its use. Unless use and users are included in policy, it is unlikely that EVs will be able to substantially reduce climate impact from transport. Including the use of transport and energy in policy would illuminate the climate impact of the transport system, possibly leading to measures for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transport.

Keyword
Electric vehicles, transport policy, climate impact, sociotechnical systems
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-116683 (URN)
Available from: 2015-03-31 Created: 2015-03-31 Last updated: 2015-03-31Bibliographically approved
6. Assessing the climate impact of district heating systems with combined heat and power production and industrial excess heat
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessing the climate impact of district heating systems with combined heat and power production and industrial excess heat
2015 (English)In: Resources, Conservation and Recycling, ISSN 0921-3449, E-ISSN 1879-0658, Vol. 86, 31-39 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Heat demand is a large contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the European Union (EU), as heat is largely produced using fossil fuel resources. Extended use of district heating (DH) could reduce climate impact, as DH systems can distribute heat produced in efficient combined heat and power (CHP) plants and industrial excess heat, thus utilising heat that would otherwise be wasted. The difficulty to estimate and compare GHG emissions from DH systems can however constitute an obstacle to an expanded implementation of DH. There are several methods for GHG emission assessments that may be used with varying assumptions and system boundaries. The aim of this paper is to illuminate how methodological choices affect the results of studies estimating GHG emissions from DH systems, and to suggest how awareness of this can be used to identify possibilities for GHG emission reductions. DH systems with CHP production and industrial excess heat are analysed and discussed in a systems approach. We apply different methods for allocating GHG emissions between products and combine them with different system boundaries. In addition, we discuss the impact of resource efficiency on GHG emissions, using the framework of industrial symbiosis (IS). We conclude that assessments of the climate impact of DH systems should take local conditions and requirements into account. In order for heat from CHP production and industrial excess heat to be comparable, heat should be considered a by-product regardless of its origin. That could also reveal opportunities for GHG emission reductions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015
Keyword
Systems analysis, District heating, Greenhouse gas emissions, Resource efficiency, Combined heat and power, Industrial excess heat
National Category
Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-114402 (URN)10.1016/j.resconrec.2015.01.006 (DOI)000351655000004 ()
Funder
Swedish Energy Agency
Note

This paper was written under the auspices of the Energy Systems Programme, which is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency. Dr Sandra Backlund, Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, is gratefully acknowledged for valuable input to an early version of the paper. We would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

Available from: 2015-02-20 Created: 2015-02-20 Last updated: 2017-12-04

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