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Mobilizing sociotechnical imaginaries of fossil-free futures - Electricity and biogas in public transport in Linkoping, Sweden
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2019 (English)In: Energy Research & Social Science, ISSN 2214-6296, E-ISSN 2214-6326, Vol. 49Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In response to concerns about climate change and fossil fuel reliance, Swedish national policy has set the ambitious goal of a fossil fuel independent transport fleet by 2030, opening up a widespread debate on renewable fuel choice. Across sectors and regions, this debate inspires competing visions for how this transition can be achieved. Using sociotechnical imaginaries for a theoretical background, this paper will examine two competing visions in the case of urban public transport in Linkoping, Sweden. While the biogas sociotechnical imaginary is based on the socio-material reality of the existing local infrastructure system, the electricity imaginary is gaining widespread support including from national and international interests. Using interviews with fourteen key actors and document analysis, this paper seeks to understand how local actors understand biogas and electric buses as competing technologies and how they mobilize these antagonistic imaginaries in their own visions of the future. Most often, actors mobilize both the biogas and the electric imaginary alongside each other, suggestion an attempt at reconciling them at the local level. This reconciliation sheds light on the challenge of applying national imaginaries to local cases and indicates that the complexity of multi-level systems must be considered in large scale sustainability transitions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV , 2019. Vol. 49
Keywords [en]
Sociotechnical imaginaries; Biogas; Electric vehicles; Local contexts
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-155537DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2018.10.025ISI: 000460444100001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-155537DiVA, id: diva2:1299540
Note

Funding Agencies|Biogas Research Center; Linkoping University; Swedish Energy Agency

Available from: 2019-03-27 Created: 2019-03-27 Last updated: 2020-02-03
In thesis
1. Multiple Imaginaries of the Fossil Fuel Free Future: Biogas and Electricity in Swedish Urban Transport
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Multiple Imaginaries of the Fossil Fuel Free Future: Biogas and Electricity in Swedish Urban Transport
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Flera Föreställningar av den Fossilfria Framtiden : Biogas och El i Svensk Stadstrafik
Abstract [sv]

I kölvattnet av klimatkrisen har det blivit allt tydligare att det fossilbaserade transportsystemet måste genomgå en global omvandling. Många alternativ för förnyelsebara drivmedel har föreslagits, alla omgivna av föreställningar om hur dessa tekniker kommer att bidra till en bättre framtid. Dessa föreställningar påverkar utvecklingen eftersom implementeringen av varje alternativ teknik kräver uppbyggnad av mångfaldiga socio-tekniska ensembler som stöder dess användning. Som ett resultat av detta är det troligt att processen för att ersätta fossila bränslen med dessa förnybara alternativ kommer bli komplex. Avhandlingen betraktar uppkomsten av två av dessa föreställningar om förnybara bränslen och studerar visioner om biogas och el i ett svenskt sammanhang. Biogas har en lång historia som transportbränsle i Sverige där, även om den utgör en liten andel av den totala bränsleanvändningen, utgör den ändå grunden för många kommunala kollektivtrafiksystem. Elektriska fordon har blivit alltmer attraktiva när fler aktörer anammar en föreställning som ser en framtid där fordon är delade, autonoma och elektriska. Denna interaktion exemplifieras i kollektivtrafik i städer eftersom många kommuner börjar implementera elbussar i ett försök att öka energieffektiviteten och minska föroreningarna. Denna avhandling följer tre fallstudier där föreställningarna om biogas och elfordon samverkar: kollektivtrafik i städerna Linköping respektive Malmö samt en analys av det omfattande nationella policydokumentet Fossilfrihet på väg. Avhandlingen bidrar till en bredare förståelse för hur visioner kan påverka tröghet och förändring av transportalternativ inom den bredare omställningen till en fossilfri framtid.   

Abstract [en]

In the wake of the climate crisis, it has become increasingly evident that the fossil fuel-based transport system must undergo a global transformation. Numerous renewable fuel alternatives have been suggested, accompanied by imaginaries of how these technologies will contribute to a better future. These imaginaries have a wide-ranging impact because the implementation of each alternative technology will require the build-up of multifarious socio-technical ensembles that support their use. As a result, replacing fossil fuels with these renewable alternatives is likely to be a complex process. This dissertation considers the emergence of two such visions of renewable fuels studying imaginaries of biogas and electricity in the Swedish context. Biogas has a long history of use as a transport fuel in Sweden, where although it makes up a small percentage of total fuel use it also forms the basis of numerous municipal public transport systems. Meanwhile, electric vehicles have become increasingly attractive as more actors subscribe to an imaginary that sees the future of vehicles as shared, autonomous, and electric. This interaction is exemplified in urban public transportation as many municipalities begin to implement electric buses in an attempt to increase energy efficiency and reduce pollution. This thesis follows three case studies where the imaginaries of biogas and electric vehicles interact: urban public transport in the municipalities of Linköping and Malmö, and analysis of a comprehensive national policy document Fossil fuel freedom on the road. It contributes to a wider understanding of how visions can influence obduracy and change of transport alternatives within the wider transformation to a fossil fuel free future.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2020. p. 66
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 782
Keywords
sociotechnical imaginaries; biogas, electric vehicles, obduracy, sociotechnical change, urban transport, sociotekniska föreställningar, biogas, elfordon, tröghet, sociotekniska förändring, stadstrafik
National Category
Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-163349 (URN)9789179298999 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-03-27, TemCAS, T-building, Campus Valla, Linköping, 12:35 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-02-03 Created: 2020-02-03 Last updated: 2020-02-03Bibliographically approved

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