ECN publication
The next 50 years. Four European energy futures
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Policy Studies 1-5-2005
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-C--05-057 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
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From a European perspective the Netherlands can be viewed as a niche for experiments where variation is stimulated and adaptive capacity is maintained, while Europe is the selection environment that ultimately determines the success of energy technologies. At the same time, it is clear that the European selection environment itself is not immune to geopolitical and socio-cultural changes at the global level. Indeed, the European energy regime will evolve in different directions dependent upon those global changes and Europe?s own ambitions at the global scale.

Accordingly, the future course of European energy transitions is described in four contrasting scenarios:

  • Firewalled Europe
  • Fossil trade
  • Sustainable trade
  • Fenceless Europe

The roles that Dutch companies can play on the European level differ fundamentally between these four scenarios. Making robust strategic choices for energy innovation policies in such contrasting scenarios is the challenge for strategic niche management in the Netherlands. In order to do so wisely, the Netherlands must follow the adagio 'think globally, act locally'. It must not only consider European ambitions on the global scale, but it must also attempt to close the gap between technological innovations and profit opportunities at the local level. Alliances with regional economic interests are crucial in this respect. Given that the Netherlands is already acting as an energy gateway for Europe it has an excellent starting position. However, the future is likely to bring structural changes in energy value chains and only adequate innovation in different parts of those energy value chains can lead to success.

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