Energy Efficiency

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 1179–1192 | Cite as

Sustainable energy transition: the case of the Swedish pulp and paper industry 1973–1990

  • Ann-Kristin Bergquist
  • Kristina SöderholmEmail author
Original Article


By employing historical case study methodology, this paper examines the transition towards renewable energy and increased energy efficiency in the Swedish pulp and paper industry (PPI) during the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1973 and 1990, CO2 emissions were cut by 80 % in this sector, and this was mainly achieved by substituting away from oil to biofuels in the form of by-products from the pulp manufacturing process. The CO2 reduction was also a result of energy efficiency improvements and increased internal production of electricity through back-pressure turbine power generation. Sweden was highly dependent on oil at the advent of the first Oil Crisis in 1973, and the increased oil prices put pressure on the Swedish government and the energy-intensive PPI to reduce this oil dependency. Of central importance for the energy transition was the highly collaborative strategy of the PPI, both internally among pulp mills as well as between the sector as a whole and the corporatist Swedish state administration. The Swedish government chose a proactive strategy by emphasizing knowledge management and collaboration with the industry along with the substitution of internal biofuels for oil. The transition was also characterized by a strong focus on unutilized potentials in the PPI; a previous waste problem now could be transformed into energy savings and improved energy efficiency. Energy taxes and fees also played an important role in Swedish energy policy during the 1970s and the 1980s. All in all, the study illustrates the central role of governments and their ability to push industrial sectors into new technological pathways through a wide palette of mutually reinforcing policy instruments. The results further point at the importance of a more holistic understanding of the interplay between different policies and their impacts in the longer run.


Energy transition Oil crises Biofuels Pulp and paper industry Sweden 



Financial support from the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences and the Swedish Energy Agency is gratefully acknowledged, as are valuable comments from four anonymous reviewers.


  1. Axelsson, L.-E. (1982). Energiutbildning för bättre energihushållning (Svensk papperstidning, p. 5).Google Scholar
  2. Axelsson, L.-E. (1983). Massa- och pappersindustrin visar vägen mot oljeoberoende (Svensk papperstidning, p. 5).Google Scholar
  3. Belderbos, R., Carree, M., & Lokshin, B. (2004). Cooperative R&D strategies and firm performance. Research Policy, 33(10), 1477–1492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bergquist, A., & Söderholm, K. (2011). Green innovation systems in the Swedish industry 1960–1989. Business History Review, 85(4), 677–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bergquist, A., & Söderholm, K. (2015). Transition to greener pulp: regulation, industry responses and path dependency. Business History. doi: 10.1080/00076791.2014.986105.Google Scholar
  6. Ekheimer, P. (2006). Tidningspapper av returpapper - Den svenska massa- och pappersindustrins omvandling under senare delen av 1900-talet (Newsprint from recycled paper—the transformation of the Swedish pulp and paper industry in the late 1990s). Göteborg: Chalmers University of Technology.Google Scholar
  7. Eliasson, A. (2014). Email correspondence with Anders Eliasson, Energi och Processkonsult, Eurocon, Feb. 13.Google Scholar
  8. Ericsson, K., Nilsson, L.-J., & Nilsson, M. (2011). New energy strategies in the Swedish pulp and paper industry—the role of national and EU climate and energy policies. Energy Policy, 39(3), 1439–1449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fracoro, G., Vakkilainen, E., Hamaguchi, M., Nelson, S., & de Souza, M. (2012). Energy efficiency in the Brazilian pulp and paper industry. Energies, 5, 3550–3572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Government Bill. (1975). Regeringens propostion om energihushållning m.m. Stockholm: Government Bill.Google Scholar
  11. Government Bill 1980/81:90. Om riktlinjer för energipolitiken. Stockholm.Google Scholar
  12. Gunningham, N., Kagan, R. A., & Thornton, D. (2003). Different shades of green. Business, regulation, and environment. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hall, P. A., & Soskice, D. (2001). Varieties of capitalism: the institutional foundations of comparative advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hartler, N. (1978). Energisnåla massa- och pappersprocesser (Svensk papperstidning, p. 1).Google Scholar
  15. Henriksson, E., & Lundmark, R. (2013). Structural changes in industrial electricity use: the case of the pulp and paper industry in Sweden. Energy Efficiency, 6(2), 305–314.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Henriksson, E., Söderholm, P., & Wårell, L. (2012). Industrial Electricity demand and energy efficiency policy: the role of price changes in private R&D in the Swedish paper & pulp industry. Energy Policy, 47, 437–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Högselius, P., & Kaijser, A. (2007). När folkhemselen blev internationell, avregleringen i historiskt perspektiv. Stockholm: SNS förlag.Google Scholar
  18. IEA, International Energy Agency. (2007). Tracking industrial energy efficiency and CO2 emissions. Paris: IEA, International Energy Agency.Google Scholar
  19. IEA, International Energy Agency. (2012). Policy pathways: energy management programmes for industry—gaining through saving. Paris: IEA and Institute for Industrial Productivity.Google Scholar
  20. IVA, The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. (2013). Energieffektivisering av Sveriges industri: hinder och möjligheter att nå en halverad energianvändning till 2050: ett arbete inom IVAs projekt Ett energieffektivt samhälle. Stockholm: IVA, The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences.Google Scholar
  21. Järvinen, J., Ojala, J., Melander, A., & Lamberg, J. A. (2012). The evolution of pulp and paper industries in Finland, Sweden, and Norway 1800–2005. In J.-A. Lamberg, J. Ojala, M. Peltoniemi, & T. Särkkä (Eds.), The evolution of global paper industry 1800–2050. A comparative analysis (pp. 19–48). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  22. Johansson, M. (2014). Improved energy efficiency within the Swedish steel industry—the importance of energy management and networking. Energy Efficiency. doi: 10.1007/s12053-014-9317-z.Google Scholar
  23. Jönsson, J. (2011). Analysing different technology pathways for the pulp and paper industry in a European energy systems perspective. Gothenburg: Chalmers University of technology.Google Scholar
  24. Jönsson, S.-E., Nygaard, J., & Wiberg, R. (1976a). Modeller för energihushållning i massa- och papperstillverkning. Sulfatfabrik för blekt avsalumassa. Stockholm: Ångpanneföreningen.Google Scholar
  25. Jönsson, S.-E., Nygaard, J., & Wiberg, R. (1976b). Modeller för energihushållning i massa- och papperstillverkning. Kraftlinerbruk. Stockholm: Ångpanneföreningen.Google Scholar
  26. Jönsson, S.-E., Nygaard, J., & Wiberg, R. (1977a). Modeller för energihushållning i massa- och papperstillverkning. Mjukpappersbruk. Stockholm: Ångpanneföreningen.Google Scholar
  27. Jönsson, S.-E., Nygaard, J., & Wiberg, R. (1977b). Modeller för energihushållning i massa- och papperstillverkning. Tidningspappersbruk. Stockholm: Ångpanneföreningen.Google Scholar
  28. Kander, A., Malamina, P., & Warde, P. (2013). Power to the people. Energy in Europe over the last five centuries. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Laestadius, S. (1998). Technology level, knowledge formation, and industrial competence in paper manufacturing. In G. Eliason, C. Green, & C. R. McCann (Eds.), Microfoundation of economic growth: a Schumpeterian perspective. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lewin, L. (2002). Ideologi och strategi: svensk politik under 130 år. Stockholm: Norstedts juridik.Google Scholar
  31. Lindmark, M., Bergquist, A.-K., & Andersson, L.-F. (2011). Energy transition, carbon dioxide reduction and output growth in the Swedish pulp and paper industry: 1973–2006. Energy Policy, 39(9), 5449–5456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lundqvist, L. J. (1971). Miljövårdsförvaltning och politisk struktur. Uppsala: Verdandi.Google Scholar
  33. Mårald, E. (2010). Methanol as future fuel: efforts to develop alternative fuels in Sweden after the Oil Crisis. History and Technology: An International Journal., 26(4), 335–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Marklund, G. (1994). Institutions and appropriation in Swedish technology policy. Stockholm: Graphic Systems.Google Scholar
  35. McNeill, J. R. (2000). Something is new under the sun. an environmental history of the twentieth century. New York: W.W Norton and Co.Google Scholar
  36. Meadowcroft, J. (2011). Engaging with the politics of sustainability transitions. Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions., 1, 70–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mikler, J. (2009). Greening the car industry. Varieties of capitalism and climate change. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  38. Nilsson, L. J., Larson, E. D., Kenneth Gilbreath, K., & Gupta, A. (1995). Energy efficiency and the pulp and paper industry January 1, 1996 (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE): Research Report IE962).Google Scholar
  39. Nilsson, L. J., Johansson, B., Åstrand, K., Ericsson, K., Svenningsson, P., Börjesson, P., & Neij, L. (2004). Seeing the wood for the trees: 25 years of renewable energy policy in Sweden. Energy for Sustainable Development, 8(1), 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Norrström, H. (2013). Interview in Stockholm.Google Scholar
  41. Ottosson, M. (2011). Opposition and adjustment to industrial greening—the Swedish forest industry’s (re)actions regarding energy transition 1989–2009 (Linköping Studies in Arts and Science No 526).Google Scholar
  42. Ottosson, M., & Magnusson, T. (2013). Socio-technical regimes and heterogeneous capabilities: the Swedish pulp and paper industry’s response to energy policies. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 5(4), 355–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Porter, M. E., & van der Linde, C. (1995). Towards a new conception of the environment-competiveness relationship. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 9(4), 97–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. PPRF, Pulp and Paper Research Foundation. (1973). Stiftelsen Cellulosa- och Pappersforskning protokollskopior, 1970–1993. Minutes, no. 8. Stockholm: Centrum för Näringslivshistoria.Google Scholar
  45. Regestad, S. (1977). Skogsindustriella forsknings- och utvecklingsprojekt inom energiområde (Svensk papperstidning, 14).Google Scholar
  46. Robertsson, O. (1975). Energibesparande åtgärder i sulfatfabriker (Svensk papperstidning, 1).Google Scholar
  47. Rosenberg, N. (1994). Exploring the Black box. Technology, economics, and history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rothstein, B. (1992). Den Korporativa Staten: intresseorganisationer och statsförvaltning i svensk politik. Stockholm: Norstedts juridik.Google Scholar
  49. Rydin, B. (1980). Energianvändningen i industrin (Svensk papperstidning, 1).Google Scholar
  50. SCA. (1974). Annual report Stockholm: Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget.Google Scholar
  51. SCA. (1981). Annual report Stockholm: Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget.Google Scholar
  52. Schipper, L., Johnsson, F., Howarth, R., Andersson, B., & Price, L. (1994). Energianvändningen i Sverige. Ett internationellt perspektiv. Stockholm: Närings- och teknikutvecklingsverket (NUTEK).Google Scholar
  53. SEA. (2000). The Swedish Energy Agency. Effektiv energianvändning. En analys av utvecklingen 1970–1998. Eskilstuna: SEA.Google Scholar
  54. SEA. (2006). The Swedish Energy Agency. Energy in Sweden, facts and figures. Eskilstuna: SEA.Google Scholar
  55. SEA. (2015). The Swedish Energy Agency. Energiläget 2015. Eskilstuna.Google Scholar
  56. SFIF. (2011). Facts and figures. Swedish Forest Industry Federation.Google Scholar
  57. SIND. (1976). Statens industriverk (Swedish Industry Agency). Series of publications, 1976:3. Stockholm: Allmänna förlaget.Google Scholar
  58. SIND. (1977). Statens industriverk (Swedish Industry Agency). Series of publications, 1977:6. Stockholm: Allmänna förlaget.Google Scholar
  59. SIND. (1978). Statens industriverk (Swedish Industry Agency). Series of publications, 1978:6. Stockholm: Allmänna förlaget.Google Scholar
  60. SIND. (1983). Statens industriverk (Swedish Industry Agency). Series of publications, 1983:2. Stockholm: Allmänna förlaget.Google Scholar
  61. SMI. (1974). Swedish Ministry of Industry. Energiforskning: Expertmaterial. Program för forskning och utveckling: betänkande avgivet av Energiprogramkommittén. the Energy Program Committee. Stockholm: Allmänna förlaget.Google Scholar
  62. SMI. (1977a). Swedish Ministry of Industry (Industridepartementet), Energihushållning. Huvudrapport från expertgruppen för energihushållning. Energikommissionen. Stockholm: Liber förlag.Google Scholar
  63. SMI. (1977b). Swedish Ministry of Industry (Industridepartementet), Energikommissionen, Energibesparingar inom industrisektorn. Sektorrapport från Expertgruppen för energihushållning. Stockholm: Liber förlag.Google Scholar
  64. Söderholm, K., & Bergquist, A.-K. (2012). Firm collaboration and environmental adaptation: the case of the Swedish pulp and paper industry 1900–1990. Scandinavian Economic History Review, 60(2), 183–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Söderholm, K., & Bergquist, A.-K. (2013). Growing green and competitive: a case study of a Swedish pulp mill. Sustainability, 5(5), 1789–1805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Sörlin, S. (2006). En ny institutssektor. En analys av industriforskningsinstitutens villkor och framtid ur ett närings- och innovationspolitiskt perspektiv. Stockholm: Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications.Google Scholar
  67. SP. (1975). Om FoU på energiområdet (Svensk Papperstidning, 9).Google Scholar
  68. SP. (1982). Slaget om energin avgör skogsindustrins framtid (Svensk papperstidning, 5).Google Scholar
  69. Stenqvist, C. (2013). Industrial energy efficiency improvement—the role of policy and evaluation (Doctoral dissertation). Lund: Lund University.Google Scholar
  70. Stenqvist, C. (2015). Trends in energy performance of the Swedish pulp and paper industry: 1984–2011. Energy Efficiency, 8, 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Stora. (1973). Annual reports. Stockholm: Stora Enso AB Head Office.Google Scholar
  72. Stora. (1974). Annual reports. Stockholm: Stora Enso AB Head Office.Google Scholar
  73. Stora. (1981). Annual reports. Stockholm: Stora Enso AB Head Office.Google Scholar
  74. Stora. (1983). Annual reports. Stockholm: Stora Enso AB Head Office.Google Scholar
  75. Sundblad, E. (1977). Skogsindustrin och energifrågorna (Svensk papperstidning, 9).Google Scholar
  76. Thollander, P., & Ottosson, M. (2008). An energy efficient Swedish pulp and paper industry—exploring barriers to and driving forces for cost-effective energy efficiency investments. Energy Efficiency, 1(1), 21–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Vedung, E. (1982). Energipolitiska Utvärderingar 1973–81. (Energy policy Evaluations 1973–81). Report no. 52. Stockholm: Delegation för energiforskning (DFE).Google Scholar
  78. Wallace, D. (1995). Environmental policy and industrial innovation: strategies in Europe, the US and Japan. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  79. Wiberg, R. (1974). Energiförbrukning i massa och pappersindustrin 1973: rapport från undersökning av specifik bränsle- och kraftförbrukning för olika massa- och pappersslag samt totalt för branschen. Stockholm: Svenska Cellulosa- och Pappersbruksföreningen.Google Scholar
  80. Wittrock, B., & Lindström, S. (1984). De stora programmens tid. Forskning och energi i svensk politik. Stockholm: Akademilitteratur AB.Google Scholar
  81. Wohlfahrt, G. (1977). Energihushållningen i massa- och pappersindustrin. Om pågående utredningsverksamhet på branschnivå (Svensk papperstidning, 1).Google Scholar
  82. Wohlfahrt, G. (1982). Grafströmska utredningen och skogsindustrin (Svensk papperstidning, 5).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Economic HistoryUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social SciencesLuleå University of TechnologyLuleåSweden

Personalised recommendations