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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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Energy transition Oil crises Biofuels Pulp and paper industry Sweden 

Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

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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

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