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Fuelling expectations: a policy-promise lock-in of UK biofuel policy

Berti, Pietro and Levidow, Les (2014). Fuelling expectations: a policy-promise lock-in of UK biofuel policy. Energy Policy, 66 pp. 135–143.

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Controversy over EU-wide biofuel policy resonated within the UK, fuelling policy disagreements among UK public authorities. They disagreed over how to protect a space for future second-generation biofuels, which were expected to overcome harm from first-generation biofuels. The UK government defended rising targets for available biofuels as a necessary stimulus for industry to help fulfil the UK’s EU obligations and eventually develop second-generation biofuels. By contrast, Parliamentary Select Committees opposed biofuel targets on grounds that these would instead lock-in first-generation biofuels, thus delaying or pre-empting second-generation biofuels. Those disagreements can be explained by different institutional responsibilities and reputational stakes towards ‘promise-requirement cycles’, whereby techno-optimistic promises generate future requirements for the actors involved. The UK government’s stance illustrates a ‘policy-promise lock-in’, a dilemma whereby promised support is a requirement for credibility towards technology innovators and thus technoscientific development – but may delay the redirection of support from incumbent to preferable emerging technologies. Thus the sociology of expectations – previously applied to technological expectations from technology innovators – can be extended to analyse public authorities.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
ISSN: 0301-4215
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Knowledge Production for Sustainable Bio-energyRES-062-23-2701ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies > Development
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
International Development & Inclusive Innovation
Item ID: 39179
Depositing User: Les Levidow
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2013 09:10
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2019 06:43
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