Archive for the ‘Netherlands’ Category

EFP Brief No. 238: Research Agenda Dutch Mobility System, Energy System and Built Environment 2040

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Scenario forecasts for the Dutch mobility system, energy system and built environment in 2040 were performed to investigate which knowledge TNO should develop to support and stimulate future innovation in these fields. Three scenario studies were conducted to investigate the Dutch built environment, the Dutch energy system and the Dutch mobility system. The results serve to strengthen the TNO strategy statement.

Identifying Dutch Research Priorities for Future Mobility, Energy and Built Environment

Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO is an independent research organisation whose expertise and research make an important contribution to the competitiveness of companies and organisations, to the economy and to the quality of society as a whole. It’s activities are split into seven thematic domains; healthy living, industrial innovation, defence, safety and security, energy, transport and mobility, built environment and information society.

 TNO needs to update it’s strategy every four years to announce which societal issues it will address in their next strategy period and how it will apply the funds which are administered by the Dutch government. In order to formulate a strategy that is robust for future developments TNO used scenario planning in order to test its strategy against multiple possible future

Creating a Shared Vision

The objective of the scenario study is threefold:

1) to find what knowledge should be developed to deal with future challenges,

2) to test the TNO strategy against future scenario’s

3) to find the most important factors influencing the development of technologies in mobility, energy and the built environment and

4) to create a shared vision on future development amongst the participants.

Scenario Method

For the future forecast TNO applied a scenario method which is based on the original work of Kees van der Heijden for Shell (Heijden, 1996). For each of the three subjects a separate study was performed, consisting of a series of three workshops. Within these workshops the participants identified the main uncertainties in the future developments in the respective fields. Subsequently, these fields were clustered and scored for importance and level of uncertainty. Based on the two most important/uncertain uncertainties the participants developed four scenarios to describe the possible future outcomes.

In the scenario process an average of 25 TNO specialists per subject participated in the scenario development process. Selection of participants was based on coverage of all relevant expertise within the subject, furthermore participants were selected for their ability to overview developments in the entire field. Specialist were available on: key (emergent) technologies, finance, economy, policy, rules and regulations and international relations.

 

Clusters of Uncertainties

In the first workshop the participants were asked to name the most uncertain factors which would determine the future developments in energy, mobility and the built environment. The results were clustered into 6-15 clusters of uncertainties. Which clusters of uncertainties were most influential and uncertain was determined by popular vote and discussion.

For each subject the project the following major uncertainties were identified:

Mobility

Strong governmental control vs. market driven and an individual society vs. a collective society.

Energy

Governmental control vs. market driven and lack of international cooperation vs. strong international cooperation.

Built environment

An individual risk prone society vs. a collective risk averse society and spread low economic growth vs. concentrated high economic growth.

Within the projects the experts developed two or four scenarios in group discussions. These scenarios are based on the two uncertainties that are considered most uncertain/influential for the subject. In the following sections the results of the scenario studies for the three subjects will be discussed separately. First the scenarios are described, then aspects which are relevant for all different scenarios or vary between scenarios are discussed and finally a draft technological research agenda is compiled.

Mobility: Four Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Governmental Control and Societal Involvement

Scenario I: Driven by individualism, the government limits is effort to a small number of activities that protect the rights of its citizens. The government facilitates market activities by providing a stable environment for economic growth. The scenario shows high economic competition, with a European home-market.

Scenario II: The government is strict, yet righteous. The government uses her influence through laws and setting norms and standards that are based on firm societal support. – after all, these are made in the public interest. Laws and regulations are firmly maintained.

Scenario III: The government has a minor role, market forces are trusted upon to ensure innovation. This way people can vote with their wallets.

Scenario IV: The influence of the government on societal issues is limited. Society is too complex and interests too divers to find a common ground for governmental action. Collective values are shared by joining communities that share our values and warrant your interest.

 

Mobility in the Context of the Four Scenarios

The developments in the mobility system are very uncertain. All scenarios are equally conceivable. Therefore, a strategy should be developed that is able to cope with different future developments.

Future developments in transport are highly dependent on the available infrastructure, vehicle- and fuel developments and the effect transport has on the environment and society.

All scenarios point to mobility that is concentrated on roads. Congestion will be a lasting problem. External effects are tackled with technological solutions.

Biofuels, hydrogen and electricity will play a more important role in mobility.

 

Scenario Specific Findings

  • In some scenarios a European network of high-speed rail connections is developed.
  • Solutions to congestion are scenario specific: optimisation of infrastructure usage, transport services or smart logistics.
  • Also solution to externalities are scenario specific, ranging from efficient driving mechanisms to capture of pollutants.
  • Transport- and travel volume are scenario dependent and depend on price. This price may increase, because of internalisation of external cost and high fuel prices, or drop because of more fuel efficient techniques.
  • The degree to which biofuels, hydrogen and electricity will play a more important role in mobility is dependent on the role of the government.

For TNO’S future Technological Research Agenda these findings imply that further knowledge is needed about:

  • Energy efficient vehicles;
  • Alternative driving mechanisms;
  • ITS systems for:
    • Managing mobility issues
    • Managing traffic
      • Communication between vehicles for increased safety and traffic flow enhancement;
    • Impact assessment of infrastructure;
    • Robust infrastructure;
    • Reliability of infrastructure;

Energy: Two Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Governmental Control and International Cooperation

Scenario I: Countries form a collective to face the global challenges, such as climate change. The national government firmly takes the initiative for bringing (sustainable) change.

Scenario II: : International governments and organizations are suspicious of each other. Countries compete for available energy sources. The national government is reactive and aimed at facilitating change processes initiated by industries and NGO’s.

Energy in the Context of the Two Scenarios

The entire built environment will be transformed to become energy neutral. More energy production will take place locally with solar (pv and warmth), Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) and geothermic energy.

Fossil fuels will remain an important source of energy. Whereas, biofuels and hydrogen will only play a small role in the Dutch energy system.

Scenario specific findings

  • The degree to which societal costs are included in the price for fossil fuels is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control.
  • The choice for climate change mitigation or adaptation is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control and international cooperation.
  • The degree to which local energy systems are developed collectively or independently is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control.
  • The emergence of a international smart grid and large scale energy storage capacity is largely dependent on the degree of international cooperation.
  • The large scale deployment of carbon capture and storage is largely dependent on the degree of international cooperation.
  • The substitution of oil by coal of gas is largely dependent on the degree of governmental control

Accordingly, in the energy sector, TNO will need knowledge to boost their Technological Research Agenda. Knowledge is needed about:

  • ways to include new technology in existing products;
  • insulation;
  • separate transport systems for inside and outside cities;
  • preparing the electricity network for larger fluctuations in supply and demand;
  • large scale storage of electricity and warmth;
  • small scale storage of electricity and warmth;
  • how to deal with the interaction between local networks, national networks and international networks of electricity, gas, warmth and CO2;
  • implementation of renewable energy systems;
  • mass-production of renewable energy systems.

Built environment: Four Scenarios Discussing the Shades of Collectiveness and Economic Prosperity

Scenario I: It is a self-service economy. Small government has prevailed. The economy is in a recession, especially in cities, resulting in more regional economic activity.

Scenario II: People strive for individual gain, and are willing to take risks. The Netherlands is a flourishing and innovative country. The economic growth is concentrated around the Randstad and a limited number of other cities.

Scenario III: People are more dependent on each other because of the fragile economic situation.

Scenario IV: Economic prosperity leads to collective appreciation of wellbeing.

Built Environment in the Context of the Four Scenarios

End consumers will get more influence in the building process. Buildings will have to become more adaptable during the different phases of life and individual needs. Elderly people will become a more important target group.

Scenario specific findings

Dense urban environments and intensive land use are themes which are important in the two scenarios with a concentration of economic activity in the Randstad area. In order to tackle the aspects identified in the scenarios, TNO will need knowledge with regard to the Technological Research Agenda on:

  • ways to increase flexibility in the use of buildings;
  • conceptual building methods;
  • re-use of building materials;
  • social-, construction-, traffic- and fire safety;
  • ways to become climate proof;
  • closure of material cycles (urban mining);
  • virtual building;
  • technologies for local energy generation and storage;
  • the effects of climate change;
  • intensive land use.

TNO Strategy Update Every Four Years

In order to formulate a strategy that is robust for future developments TNO used scenario planning in order to test its strategy against multiple possible future. TNO needs to update it’s strategy every four years to announce which societal issues it will address in their next strategy period and how it will apply the funds which are administered by the Dutch government.

 

Authors: Dr. J. van der Vlies      jaap.vandervlies@tno.nl

Drs. G.G.C. Mulder      guus.mulder@tno.nl

Sponsors: Dr. H.M.E. Miedema
Type: National foresight exercise, single issue
Organizer: Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO
Duration: Feb-Sept 2009 Budget: 35 kEuro Time Horizon: 2040 Date of Brief: March 2011  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 238_Dutch Research Agenda.

Sources and References

Heijden (1996), Scenarios – The art of strategic conversation, second edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2005, West Sussex.

EFP Brief No. 236: Assessing Dutch Defence Needs Follow-up

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Under the influence of (inter)national technological, political and economic developments, the Dutch defence industry is increasingly intertwined with and developing towards a civilian industry. Consequently, the political responsibilities, atti-tudes and criteria are changing for both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Economic Affairs. An analysis of the Dutch defence industry helped to determine the main opportunities for innovation in the industry and to identify the com-plementary technological competences needed to make the most of them. A strategic vision, including options for innova-tion policy, was developed as well. In this follow-up brief, we reiterate the background, approach and results of the initial foresight study and describe its impact in the years to follow.

Transition of Defence

Historically, “defence” supports national strategy, in which nations have built their own forces, defence industry and knowledge infrastructure. Consequently, within nations there arose a demand driven chain with a solid and confidential relationship between the parties in a closed chain, also discerning the industry from ‘civil’ industries. However, technological, political and economic developments in the last twenty years are changing defence radically. Issues such as the end of the Cold War, decreasing budgets, international cooperation, international organization of forces, industries and knowledge infrastructure, growing use of civil technologies, civil industries and civil markets, ‘the war on terrorism’, and homeland defence have entered the stage. Consequently, the political responsibilities, attitudes and measurements are changing for both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, while the defence industry and knowledge infrastructure is increasingly intertwined and developing towards a civil industry and knowledge infrastructure. This critical transition of the defence chain demands timely strategic information and a vision to anticipate effectively. For ministries this means a clear view on responsibilities, effective investment strategies for a capable future force and an effective industry and innovation policy. The defence industry increasingly has to deter-mine their most favourable innovative possibilities.

Developing a New Strategic Vision

As a result, the ministries wanted to assess four is-sues/developments and formed working groups to prepare the strategy. Four groups were formed to

– Inventory the relevant international developments,

– determine success factors of international cooperation in procurement,

– determine priority technological areas for the defence industry which are for interest for the domestic market, and

– policy instruments to strengthen the strategic vision.

The third question concerning the identification of priority technological areas was the core issue in this project and divided into four sub questions:

  1. What are the current strengths of the Dutch defence industry?
  2. What are international opportunities for innovation in the defence market?

Structural Approach Based on Clusters

The challenge of the exercise was to systematically translate the four sub questions into perspectives on technological clusters or innovation opportunities. This makes the outcomes comparable. Every perspective was analysed and then translated into a codified taxonomy of technologies developed by the Western European Armaments Group (WEAG); this WEAG-classification on defence technologies is generally accepted within the defence sector. This taxonomy includes technology, products and intelligence or as they are called ‘underpinning technologies’, ‘systems-related technologies’ and ‘military assessments, equipment and functions’.

Additionally, the WEAG-classes were checked for interrelation such that priority clusters are formed and interpreted, which seem to combine specific technologies with products and intelligence. Finally, these priority clusters are compared such that a final reflection is made from the four different perspectives (see figure 1).

For determining the strengths of the defence industry, companies were analysed and a computer aided workshop including the industry was organized (Group Decision Room). The innovative opportunities were inventoried based on desk re-search and interviews with leading parties. Future needs of the military forces were inventoried and weighted based on al-ready planned investments by the Ministry of Defence. Finally, the civil market was assessed by experts based on most relevant societal challenges.

Below the analysis on current strengths is elaborated. For foresight purposes, the results on innovative opportunities are also included.

Outcomes: New Paradigm of Effectiveness

Military operations are increasingly operations other than war, such as peace operations, foreign humanitarian assistance and other military support to civil authorities. Consequently, governments turned their focus on the ultimate goal of ‘effect-based [security] operations’. In practice, effect-based operations imply a joint and combined cooperation between different armies and forces resulting in a transformation of a plat-form-centric force into a network-centric force. The term “network-centric warfare” or “network enabled operations” broadly describes the combination of emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures that a fully or even partially networked force can employ to create a decisive advantage. On the whole, the defence sector still innovates on platforms, weaponry and increasingly on intelligence. Figure 3 below shows all innovation themes which are on the agenda of the defence sector.

Innovation themes are divided into underlying innovative opportunities, translated in the WEAG-classification and finally clusters are identified. The main clusters are C4I, sensor systems and integrated system design and development.

Information Based Services

The clusters arising from the four perspectives are compared with each other to identify the main clusters. Table 3 below shows the synthesis.

Type 1 clusters can be regarded as broad, strong clusters, with a good industry base and market potential in domestic, inter-national and civil markets. This first type of cluster represents information based services for the Dutch industry. Type 2 clusters cover a couple of interesting niche markets. Finally, type 3 clusters are fragmented but might have some niches.

Original Brief Impact Discussion

In the 2007 brief, some of the impact of the foresight study was already visible and described:

The project was on a highly political trajectory, where the interests of industry and the ministries of Defence and Economic Affairs were intertwined. Also being a part of a broader process and the project delivering the content for just one of four working groups led to intensive discussions within the interdepartmental group before the results could be used as input to the national strategy for the defence industry. This, together with the change of government, considerably prolonged the finalization of the strategy.

About one year after the finalization of the project, the ministries determined their Defence industry strategy. The results of the project were largely integrated into the strategy and therefore had a high impact. The technological priorities stated were fully accepted and provided the backbone to the suggested defence innovation policy. The strategy was discussed in Parliament and will be part of the national policy on the defence industry.

A Follow-up Foresight Study

As noted, the results from the 2006 foresight exercise were integrated in the Dutch Defense Industry Strategy of 2007. However, since 2007 the strategic context in which this industry sector operates has changed significantly. New forms of conflict arise, that demand new kinds of response (e.g. cyberdefense), closer cooperation with coalition partners requires further integration of systems, the financial crisis has had an impact on defense budgets, and finally there is a clear movement to an open and transparent European defense market.

These strategic changes has prompted the Dutch Defense Ministry to evaluate the Defense Industry Strategy that was formulated in 2007. A key part of this evaluation is a follow-up foresight exercise to the foresight exercise of 2006 described earlier in this brief. In the original foresight exercise, research was done on three questions with regards to the Dutch Defense Industry: (1) what is the Dutch Defense Industry good in? (2) What does the market need? (3) What does Dutch Defense need? Questions 1 and 2 were sufficiently answered, but changes in the strategic context require an update to these answers. The answer to 3 was less detailed, and still required a more extensive study.

This follow-up foresight exercise is planned for 2012, and will be performed by the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies and TNO. It aims to examine whether the identified technology clusters are still relevant, whether they need to be adjusted to extended, considering the developments in the last 5 years. The approach is mostly similar to the one of the previous foresight exercise.

Several other forward looking activities in the past 5 years provide key input for the follow-up foresight study, including an exploration to the Dutch Defense force of the future (Dutch Ministry of Defense, 2010), and a NATO study into the future of joint operations (NATO, 2011).

The follow-up foresight study will be shaped along three main topics:

Needs: the future needs of the Dutch defense are investigated, including innovation characteristics of (new) required capacities, attention to the speeding-up of the lifecycle of innovations and capacities, and the role of defense in this lifecycle of capacities and innovations.

Strengths: the strengths of the Dutch defense industry are analyzed using datasets gathered yearly by other organizations using interviews and surveys with industry organizations.

Opportunities: in interviews and focus group sessions the estimates that the Dutch defense industry make about their own future opportunities are analyzed. This analysis is accompanied by an international comparison and a separate analysis by the organizations performing the follow-up foresight exercise.

In a synthesis phase, representatives from ministries, industry and knowledge institutions will be brought together in a workshop session, in which the final conclusions and recommendations of the study will be formulated.

Conclusions

The foresight exercise described in the original brief had a high level of impact in a specific area: the Dutch Defense Industry Strategy. The study results have proven to be useful in formulating a defense industry strategy by the relevant ministries. This usefulness is further illustrated by the fact that a follow-up study was requested and has been initiated, which is expected to provide input for an update to the defense industry strategy.

Authors: Bas van Schoonhoven                                   bas.vanschoonhoven@tno.nl

Annelieke van der Giessen                 annelieke.vandergiessen@tno.nl

 
Sponsors: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Dutch Ministry of Defence  
Type: Single foresight exercise  
Geographic coverage: National (Netherlands)
Organizer: TNO – The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (www.tno.nl)
Duration: Jan/Jul 2006 Budget: € 150,000 Time Horizon: 2015    
Date of original brief: Oct. 2007     Date of follow-up brief: Oct. 2012    

 

Download EFP Brief No. 236_Assessing Dutch Defence Needs_Follow-up.

Sources and References

Butter, M, J.H.A. Hoogendoorn, A. Rensma and A. van der Giessen (2006), “The Dutch Defence Outlook”, TNO.

Hoogendoorn J.H.A., Rensma A., Butter M., van der Giessen A., (2007), “Opportunities in Innovation for the Dutch Defence Industry”, EFMN Foresight Brief No. 120, available online at
http://www.foresight-platform.eu/briefs-resources/

(Dutch) Dutch Ministry of Defense, 2010, Eindrapport – Verkenningen: Houvast voor de krijgsmacht van de toekomst
http://www.defensie.nl/actueel/nieuws/2010/03/29/46153012/strategische_verkenningen_bij_defensie_afgerond

NATO, 2011, Joint Operations 2030 – Final Report
http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA545152

EFP Brief No. 210: The Netherlands of 2040

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

In this scenario study, we sketch the most important challenges for the Netherlands to remain an attractive place for business with high-quality production and a flexible labour market. The scenarios offer students, employees, companies and government guidance in preparing for the future. By definition, the future is uncertain and becomes more uncertain the further we look ahead. The scenarios for 2040 sketch four possible worlds based on two fundamental uncertainties: the size of cities and the division of labour in the workforce.

Scenarios for 2040

Sketching future worlds contains a strong element of storytelling, which is essential when investigating the future. Our stories are developed using anticipatory thinking where the aim is to develop a rich and detailed portrait of a plausible future world, including the challenges and opportunities that such an environment would present.

Scenarios provide a useful tool in a world that is uncertain and unpredictable. They reveal different possible futures that are plausible and challenging.

For a shorter horizon, quantifying the future might be feasible and meaningful. For a period of thirty years, we believe that quantifying the future becomes less important whereas developing scenarios about possible future images of the world gains weight. Forecasting future income growth is gradually replaced by presenting consistent and plausible pictures for future worlds.

Our work sketches the most important trends, the uncertainties around these trends, and stories about the functioning and non-functioning of the economy in the coming decades. We point to the trade-offs policymakers face when trying to solve problems arising from market failures. We show how policymakers today may prepare for developments in the future.

The Economy in 2040

How will we earn our money in 2040? Policymakers are confronted with such questions. Decisions have to be made today based on current knowledge and cannot be made conditional on future events. For policies that can be changed rapidly, it is feasible to take action immediately and adjust the policy when it turns out to be the wrong one or when more knowledge about outcomes becomes available. It becomes another matter when policies have a long lead-time or when they involve investments with potentially large sunk costs. In such circumstances, policymakers have to trade off the benefits of waiting against the costs of delay. For instance, young people across Europe are paying the price for policymakers misjudging the trade-offs involved in labour market developments.

Scenarios Help (Re)Consider Options

To provide an answer to the question of how we will make a living in 2040, scenarios help policymakers to consider and reconsider different options. Scenarios bundle historical developments, current stylised facts and trends into consistent stories for alternative futures. We have developed four scenarios to analyse how the Dutch economy may evolve. In building the scenarios, we split the question of how we will make a living into the questions of who earns the money and where the money is earned in 2040. People are considered in their role as workers while cities are viewed according to the type of production that occurs there and the connections that exist within and between them.

How do firms divide tasks among workers, and what will be the main characteristics of the workforce in 2040? What determines the size and structure of cities in 2040? The answer to both questions depends on the development of technology – the fundamental driver of future economic development.

Technology Drives the World

Information communication technology (ICT) changes the division of tasks among workers through two main channels: communication and information. The communication technology (CT) part of ICT facilitates transmission of ideas and information and enables people to quickly check and confirm their validity. Tasks that used to be highly integrated can now be disconnected and executed by different persons in different places. Workers specialise. The information technology (IT) part of ICT improves the way workers process information. Many routine tasks have been taken over by computers and expert systems. Systems that link up with each other process larger and more complex types of information. This broadens the scope of work processes. Workers generalise and become a jack-of-all-trades.

Will a new general purpose technology arrive over the next 30 years? How that question is answered implies certain shifts in city sizes in the scenarios. In its early phases, the development of a general purpose technology strongly depends on face-to-face contacts. Researchers, innovators, designers and managers all benefit from close personal interaction in order to exchange knowledge. This initiates a shift towards larger cities. On the other hand, if there is no new general purpose technology, ICT will lead to scattering of economic activity across space. This will create smaller and well-connected cities. Since the future arrival of a new general purpose technology represents a major uncertainty, cities may either shrink or expand over the coming 30 years.

Scenario Framework: From Specialisation to Generalisation

The horizontal axis in Figure 1 presents the options for the division of tasks; the vertical axis shows the possibilities for city size. The scenarios are labelled such that the first term reflects the characterisation of people and the second informs about the type of location. For example, the scenario in which workers specialise and city size is relatively small is labelled Talent Towns.

Figure 1. Four scenarios

In this scenario, the economy is moving towards a task economy in which workers perform one or many tasks rather than producing one or only a few products. This implies a new division of work. There are two possible directions.

  • First, workers specialise and excel in one or a few tasks. The cost of coordinating tasks determines how specialised firms and cities become. Examples of specialised cities are Detroit, which has specialised in producing cars.
  • Second, workers are a jack-of-all-trades and mainly produce for the local market. The generalist worker is employed easily in many occupations. He uses inputs from the world’s knowledge stock and imports intermediate goods. Once again, the generalisation of work extends to firms and cities. Examples of generalised cities are New York, London and Amsterdam.

The uncertainty about cities is not about cities becoming more important since this is true in all scenarios. The question is one of size: will they be large or small. The first possibility is that cities become relatively small and are scattered across space. They serve as small economic and urban spikes. In this world, there are few reasons for economic activity to cluster. A second option has economic activity becoming highly concentrated in a limited number of large cities. Cities are the meeting places of people for the purpose of trade, the exchange of ideas, and the development of new technologies, but also to optimise the match between workers and firms and between producers and consumers.

Table 1 presents the most salient characteristics of each of the four scenarios. The table shows the implications of the scenarios for the size of the city, representing limited agglomeration benefits in Talent Towns and huge benefits in Metropolitan Markets. The scenarios are not only relevant to the Netherlands but also to the rest of the world.

Strategic Policy Making

The scenarios offer guidance for long-term strategic policymaking. Technology determines the allocation of future production, which limits the scope for the government to intervene. The scenarios reveal that uncertainties in future production mainly involve uncertainty about the division of labour and about its distribution across space. This sheds light on today’s choices. For instance, investments in infrastructure should not only solve today’s traffic jams but should also take some account of possible future growth (or decline) of cities and the connections within and between cities. Public institutions for education, science and innovation have to look beyond today’s questions and consider the possibility that specialisation may become crucial. Finally, labour market institutions, although designed in the past, should anticipate future problems as well.

Regardless of how the future unfolds, it is necessary for cities to be able to develop more freely. Cities need more possibilities to pursue their own policies. In most areas good policy varies by scenario:

  • Strengthen cities and infrastructure. Large cities should be able to grow, with a local network of public transportation and roads, combined with excellent knowledge institutions. Small cities require excellent connections in the form of highways and ICT networks.
  • Education in worlds with specialised knowledge asks for early selection and excellence. Generic knowledge puts more emphasis on accessibility and broad basic training.
  • Targeted innovation policies are only effective in the scenario with specialised and large cities.
  • The role of the welfare state is limited in all scenarios. Opportunities are especially scarce in scenarios with much specialisation and much need for collective protection of vulnerable employees. The least protection is required in scenarios with an emphasis on generic knowledge in which the government at the same time is most capable of providing such protection.
  • Renting a home is preferable to buying one in scenarios that emphasise specialisation. Workers renting a home are able to respond more flexibly and prevent a large drop in wealth when their specialisation becomes obsolete because of economic circumstances, as happened in the past in the textile industry in Tilburg and Enschede. Buying a home better suits scenarios with a broadly educated workforce.
  • Specialised workers benefit from policies that stimulate retraining.
Authors: Bas ter Weel                                   b.ter.weel@cpb.nl

George Gelauff                               g.m.m.gelauff@cpb.nl

Albert van der Horst                        a.van.der.horst@cpb.nl

Sponsors: N/A
Type: National foresight exercise covering a single issue
Organizer: CPB, Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis; www.cpb.nl
Duration: 2008-2011 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2040 Date of Brief: Feb 2012  

 

Download EFP Brief No. 210_Netherlands of 2040

References

http://www.nl2040.nl/index-en.htm

http://www.cpb.nl/en/publication/strengthen-cities-prepare-netherlands-future

EFP Brief No. 202: Future of Super Intelligent Transport Systems

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

The purpose of the exercise is to offer business people, policy makers and politicians lines of approach to determine strategy, policymaking as well as initiatives for change by presenting future visions and an accompanying agenda for the future with respect to transportation of people and goods in the Netherlands of 2040.

Integrating Socio-Economic Trends & Emerging Technologies into Mobility

Reinventing mobility is more than just “reinventing the car”. It involves the development of a new mobility paradigm and a full-scale alteration of the transport system. Mobility denotes the transportation of objects over a certain distance, in a certain environment, the movement of people, their patterns of life, work and recreation. The increasing speed at which time and place of social and commercial life takes place creates demand for new kinds, modes and scales of mobility. What will mobility look like 30 years from now?

Mechatronics, nano-electronics, interconnectivity and intelligent software will increasingly play a role in people’s daily lives. These technologies affect all societal domains and will have a great impact across all sectors of society. These developments have an enormous effect on the attitude and behaviour of human beings; interaction between technology and its users becomes an ever more crucial factor in finding solutions for problems in any domain, including mobility. Hence, implementing new technological solutions requires an integral approach from different disciplines.

Mobility Outlook for 2040

The main question of this foresight study is: why and how will the citizens of the Netherlands transport themselves and their goods 30 years from now super intelligently?

In order to answer this question, a set of four possible future visions will be defined (not necessarily conceivably probable or preferable). Each of the future visions will be accompanied by an agenda for the future. It will outline strategic questions regarding a preferred transition model. A complete system change seems inevitable and technologically attainable options will be given as well as suggestions for ‘no regret’ activities, input for future feasibility studies, and questions for further scientific research and experiments.

The target audience of this foresight study are (Dutch) business people, policy makers and politicians.

Super Intelligent: Human-Machine Interaction and Beyond

In this study, transport is considered to be a function within a society. Transport is a derived activity required to fulfil other (personal) needs like work, education, doing groceries etc. In our opinion, an integral transport system includes both the transport of people and goods. Transport can be physical but also virtual or a combination of both.

The term ‘super intelligent’ is to be interpreted not solely from a technological perspective, but also from the perspective of interaction between a machine or intelligent network, on the one side, and a human being, on the other. The challenge is to think beyond current possibilities and to consider, among others, transport systems that can regulate, manage and perform autonomously.

Dutch society, with its own set of demographics, economics, spatial planning and government, is the focus area of this study. Mobility will be addressed within and between cities as well as in rural areas, including interconnectivity between these places.

Technology as well as human behaviour and society are important aspects in this study.

Broad Assessment of Transportation Needs

The Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends (STT) organises this study, which is managed by a Project Manager with support of the STT office, under supervision of a Steering Committee. The Steering Committee monitors the progress as well as the cross-sector dependency, consistency, structure and overall logic of the project. STT foresights are based on a participatory approach with members from many different disciplines.

A broad Market Vision Group with Dutch CEOs provides its vision on challenges, acceptance and risks in bilateral talks. A Technology Vision Group analyses future technological innovations from a sector or functional domains and works towards an integrated view. A Behaviour Vision Group analyses changes in, for example, societal and behavioural attitudes and acceptance.

The results of desk research, individual interviews and the outcomes of the interactive and creative meetings of the different vision groups have resulted in four scenarios. To stimulate ideas across domains, each of the scenarios will be deliberated on by a mix of members of the Technology and Behaviour Vision Groups and some external organisations. For each scenario, we will determine the transportation needs and translate them into possible transport systems. The final future visions will be validated in an expert meeting with the members of the different vision groups and external experts.

The broad and participative setup of STT studies instigates commitment for follow-up actions already during the course of a study, not least because a cross-disciplinary and cross-company network is established.

Participants

Over 80 people from industry, knowledge institutes and government agencies are involved in this participative study. Among the participants are representatives of the following organisations:

Industry: Arcadis, Cap Gemini, Cisco, ECT, Essent, IBM, INROADS, NXP, Schiphol, Segway, Siemens, Spijkstaal, TomTom.

Knowledge institutes: Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, Next Generation Infrastructures, Rotterdam University (Hogeschool Rotterdam), Tilburg University, TNO, University of Groningen, University of Twente, VU University Amsterdam.

NGOs: ANWB, Connekt, KIVI NIRIA, Agrologistics Platform (Platform Agrologistiek).

Government agencies: Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, NL Agency.

Five Major Trends Give Input for Scenarios

This study is still in progress. Therefore the findings mentioned below are provisional.

As transport is considered a function within a society, future developments within the society are the starting point for exploring future transportation needs – notwithstanding the fact that we are aware that future technological developments will also have an impact.

Through desk research, interviews and group meetings, we have chosen several relevant (worldwide) socio-economic trends. Out of these, we have identified the following five trends as most relevant for future transportation needs for diverse future visions:

  • Urbanisation: the degree and manner of urbanisation affect the transport patterns of people and goods.
  • Demographic developments: population growth, increase in number of elderly citizens, relative decrease in number of young people –different age cohorts spend their time differently and hence have different transportation patterns.
  • Individualisation: what effect will the growing dominance of each person’s needs on (public) transport be?
  • Informatisation: informatisation changes the nature of services and the distances goods have to travel.
  • Globalisation: the distance to be covered has an impact on the transportation mode used.

These trends and their possible counterparts are input for the framework in which the four scenarios will be developed.

Framework: A Person’s Needs

Following the trends above and considering other frameworks, such as that of CPB (2010) (see references), we have defined our own framework in which a human being and his/her needs to live, work and recreate are at the core. A person’s needs, focus and preferences are the underlying thought behind the proposed framework. The two trends of individualisation and globalisation (and their possible counterparts) are set against each other to define the four future scenarios. Other relevant trends (and possible trend breaks) are used to complete the description of the four scenarios.

The degree of individualisation is believed to indicate a person’s preference for individual or collective transport of people. As for the transport of goods, it indicates the desire for more ‘tailor-made’ or more mass-produced goods and therefore the possibilities (and restrictions) in production, transportation and delivery of goods and services.

  • The degree of globalisation (geographical orientation) determines the distance that people, goods and services have to travel. With these two dimensions, participants are invited to consider two important aspects of transport: the number of items to be transported and the distance to be covered. By differentiating those two aspects, we believe the four future visions will be sufficiently distinct.

As stated before, this framework is not based on an existing model and therefore does not have a direct connection to other foresight studies or future scenario sets known to the participants. Therefore, the descriptions of the four future scenarios have to be clearly depicted and sufficiently insightful.

Scenario Set and Future Visions

The chosen framework results in the following four scenarios. The context has been sketched for each:

Individual – International: Individual Prosperity

Individuals seek after prosperity and luxury and work in casual relations for different clients. They deliver their contribution to global, virtual, shifting teams from their homes. They are not interested in the origin of products and services they consume as long as they are delivered right in time to their door and fully adjusted to their wishes.

Collective – International: Global Environmental Awareness

People live in cities. Tasks are highly divided; hence people are highly specialised in their profession. Services are the dominant work field. New technologies are maturing. Products and services are produced at the most suitable location. Government agencies worldwide have taken the lead for a healthy environment and manage the responsible use of natural resources. Companies make sure the economy runs smoothly.

Collective – Local: Strong Region

People have a regional network of acquaintances and social activities. Due to strict environmental policies, economic growth is no longer the predominant priority. Intensive reuse of natural resources and goods has restricted trade between regions. Society has shifted its focus from economic ownership to right of use. A region hosts most of the goods and facilities needed, so people see no reason to leave the area, not even for a holiday.

  • Individual – Local: Self-sufficient Unit

A worldwide crisis has triggered a dramatic shift in society. It has brought about the development of highly self-sufficient small communities, which are organised according to the principle “cradle 2 cradle”. Thanks to technological developments, habitats offer sufficient means of subsistence, and large global production flows belong to the past. Sharing knowledge globally is key to accomplishing this. Autarkic communities take up a lot of space relatively. This has resulted in ruralisation and a redevelopment of urban areas.

These scenario descriptions will be discussed by a mixed team of members from the Technological and Behavioural Vision Groups. They set the context for defining the transportation needs in each scenario and for possible (new and existing) modes of transportation to fulfil those needs. Future technological possibilities will be linked to (expected) societal issues as well as to solutions of problems. The consequences for society and its institutions, the profit sector, public sector and labour market will be analysed. Behavioural change is an ever-present aspect in all of these.

The Impact of Emerging Technologies

The participants have identified a wide range of (expected) possible technological developments. The ones believed to be most relevant to future transportation needs and possible modes of transportation are:

  • Nanotechnology
  • Biotechnology (nature as a source of inspiration, biological machines)
  • Sensor technology
  • Cognitive sciences
  • Information technology (embedded systems, network technology, artificial intelligence, ambient intelligence, self-organising systems)
  • Converging technologies
  • Energy generation, storage and distribution
  • Robotics

And to a lesser extent

  • Genetic engineering

These expected technological developments will be used to translate future transportation needs into proposed transportation systems in each of the four scenarios.

Recurring and Remarkable Ideas: How Will a ‘Cocoon Life’ Affect Future Transport Options?

During the different meetings, some ideas have recurred. Others stood out based on their ‘outside the box’ character. A selection of these ideas is listed below.

Recurring societal ideas

  • Self-organisation and self-help
  • Self-determination (deliberate individual choices)
  • Collectively individual (individuals enjoy their own choices together with others who made the same choice)
  • Local/near-home production
  • Need for social interaction remains

Recurring mobility ideas

  • Underground transport (of goods and people)
  • What you need comes to you, no need of collecting it
  • Most favourable is to use what is already there
  • Integration of activities and mobility
  • Multi-modal transportation
  • Non-travelling alternatives flourish

Remarkable ideas

  • A cocoon to live in: you carry your home along with you and connect it to your location of work or recreation
  • Relaxed and liveable city: above the ground back to nature; under the ground high-quality infrastructure
  • Disposable transport
  • Use of organic materials for transport (vehicles)

These ideas will be used to inspire and further develop the four future visions.

Assessment of Policy Options

The key issues for policy-making, the solutions required to tackle challenges and benefit from opportunities, the priorities and focus for action as well as critical factors and key players in shaping the future will be determined during the final part of this study.

STT Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends

The Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends (STT) was established in 1968 by the Royal Institute of Engineers (KIVI NIRIA). STT explores new trends and develops inspiring foresights on technology and society. For this purpose, STT provides a free space for enthusiastic stakeholders to meet and construct creative views on the future. STT aims to give publicity to its findings as a contribution to a more integrated picture of the future of society in the Netherlands and elsewhere. The results serve as starting points for new initiatives, such as national (applied) research programmes or public-private cooperation.

STT addresses industry, government, science and all other interested parties.

STT publications are highly valued in both the private and public sector.

Authors: Marie-Pauline van Voorst tot Voorst   vanvoorst@stt.nl
Sponsors: STT Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends and its beneficiaries (corporate and knowledge institutes and government)
Type: Single issue, multidisciplinary
Organizer: STT Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends – Marie-Pauline van Voorst tot Voorst
Duration: 08/2010–09/2012 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2040 Date of Brief: Sept. 2011  

 

EFP Brief No. 202_Future of Superintelligent Transport Systems

Sources and References

CPB – Centraal Planbureau (2010), “The Netherlands of 2040”, available online at http://www.nl2040.nl/

STT organisation: www.stt.nl

Super Intelligent Transport Systems project page: www.stt.nl/transport

EFP Brief No. 167: The World in 2025

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

DG Research’s Directorate for Science, Economy and Society in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers launched a foresight exercise on “The World in 2025”, which resulted in a report published in January 2009.

The World to Come – Global Trends & Disruptions

The report “The World in 2025” highlights the main trends up to 2025 (demography, urbanisation, macro-economic projections, education, science and culture) and underlines the pressures on natural resources and the new production-consumption patterns while attempting to identify the so-called “wild cards”. The role for European foresight and forward-looking activities are presented focussing on a multi-polar world and beyond technological innovation. The report has benefited from the discussions of the group of experts set up by the European Commission in 2008 (see box below).

It has taken stock of the most recent publications in the field of foresight and forward-looking activities and includes most of the reflections of different Commission Directorates-General.

Group of Experts & Scenario Process

DG Research’s Directorate for Science, Economy and Society in collaboration with the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) launched a foresight expert group on “The World in 2025”, which met on five occasions in 2008 and 2009.

The objectives of this group were, first, to assess and measure global trends over recent decades to serve as a basis for forward projections while distinguishing the different major economies and regions, including the European Union, and identifying the main economic, geopolitical, environmental and societal relationships and interconnections.

Secondly, the group was asked to generate and analyse alternative (even disruptive) scenarios of world trends up to 2025 based on specified assumptions about economic, political, social, environmental and technological developments in order to assess their consequences for the EU and to examine which policy responses could be appropriate.

“The World in 2025” group was composed of experts with a profound understanding of global challenges and developments as well as a solid knowledge of foresight in specific countries or regions. Group members included representatives from think tanks, universities, industry, the European Commission and governmental bodies. Meeting five times in 2008 and 2009, the group produced two publications: one collects the experts’ individual contributions and the other called ‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and Socio-ecological Transition’ highlights the conclusions.

The experts identified principal trends, tensions and transitions while highlighting strategies that may help policy stakeholders make informed decisions. They also say that competition for natural resources and shifts in wealth, industrial production and populations may lead to tensions over natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanisation.

Each expert produced an individual contribution to the discussions and, collectively, they generated a set of indicative scenarios for the world in 2025. The experts covered a wide range of issues, including demography, migration, urbanisation, cohesion, macro-economics and trade, employment, services, environment and climate change, energy, access to resources, education, research, technology, innovation, economic governance, defence, security and intercultural dialogue.

The key messages concern the main challenges to be faced in the next fifteen years, the main drivers that could impact on the future, the main strengths and weaknesses of Europe by 2025 and finally the wild cards that may radically change the different situations that are foreseen.

Europe to Face Marginalization

The report “The World in 2025” underlines the major future trends: geopolitical transformations in terms of population, economic development, international trade and poverty. It elucidates the tensions – natural resources (food, energy, water and minerals), migration and urbanisation – and draws transitional pathways towards a new production and consumption model, new rural-urban dynamics and a new gender and intergenerational balance.

Shift towards Asia

By the year 2025, the centres of gravity, wealth and industrial production may shift towards Asia, and the United States and Europe could likewise lose their scientific and technological edge over Asia. India and China could account for approximately 20% of the world’s research and development (R&D), that is more than double their current share.

Within 16 years, the world population will reach eight billion, the experts in the report say. Some 97% of world population growth will occur in developing countries. The analysis of demographic growth for 2025 indicates that the European population will only constitute 6.5% of the world population.

Scarcity of Natural Resources

Increased population, according to the expert group, may lead to greater scarcity of natural resources and impact the environment. This can result in tension and shifts in production and consumption patterns and the availability of natural resources.

From these demographic and resource challenges, the report sees a new ‘socio-ecological’ production and consumption model arising. New technologies (renewable energy sources, capture and storage of CO2, nuclear power, hydrogen and fuel cells) as well as changes in social behaviour, supported by economic incentives, will contribute to a reduction in energy consumption (better house insulation, replacement of environmentally damaging cars with greener options, and increased use of public transport).

The report says that while numerous scientific and technological advances will give rise to controversies in society, Europe, with its wealth of various debate and participative governance experiences, is well equipped to manage them and involve civil society in research. Global access to knowledge, though, together with the development of joint global standards and the rapid worldwide diffusion of new technologies will have a great impact on Europe’s future welfare.

It is assumed that by 2025 Europe will be specialized in exporting high-tech products. Although the specific products are currently still unknown, they can be expected to benefit from the rapid growth in Asia whose growth will probably be accompanied by an increasing inequality in the purchasing power of the population. “The increase of the population is already a good indication of the future opportunities of the market, of the consumer aspirations that have not been covered, better than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”

Potential Conflicts, Threats and Wild Cards

The report also points to the possibility of future social conflicts emerging in Europe around scientific and technological advancements in areas like cognitive sciences, nanotechnology, security technologies, genetic manipulation, synthetic biology and others.

Among the unforeseeable turbulences that could shape the next two decades, the report identifies seven “wild cards”:

  1. Persistence of the financial and economic crisis beyond 2010.
  2. A major war (for the years 2010-2020 of strong turbulence).
  3. A technological disaster that could influence the choices of priorities of governments (e.g. a nuclear accident like Chernobyl blocking the nuclear option for many years).
  4. Pandemics with devastating effects.
  5. The collapse of a major urban area in a developing country.
  6. The blocking of the European Union as a result of the difficulties of establishing new economic governance and political decision mechanisms;
  7. A breakthrough in the field of renewable energy production;
  8. A new wave of technological innovations and a new rapid growth cycle driven by emerging countries;
  9. Sudden or even brutal acceleration of the (nonlinear) impacts of climate change;
  10. Progress in the adoption of a world governance system due to the extent of the problems to be dealt with and to the pressure of public opinion.

What Experts Recommend to EU Policy Makers

Key RTD Areas

The EU should struggle for maintaining its leadership in key RTD areas, such as technologies of energy saving, research into sustainable development and climate change, health and the containment of diseases, food safety and security in general.

Europe Must Not Fall Behind in R&D

Experts suggest that Europe become a model based on emphasizing quality of life, which might involve maintaining global access to knowledge and guaranteeing or contributing to establishing international standards in science and technology. “To ensure access to knowledge through the global networks also means to be attractive for the researchers and the investment that comes from the outside”, the report points out.

From ‘Brain-drain’ to ‘Brain-circulation’

There will be a switch from ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain circulation’, and young researchers will be moving to various regions of the world, which will become educational and scientific centres. It is estimated that in 2025 there will be 645,000 Chinese students and 300,000 Indian students outside their countries. In turn, the number of European students that transfer to these two countries can also be expected to grow.

Effective Governance

Europe needs good policy in order to retain its traditionally strong position in developing cutting-edge innovation that goes beyond incremental improvements of existing technology. It will be essential that some key governance issues are solved. For instance:

  1. Set a new 3% target. One in which the EU member states commit themselves to spending 1% of GDP from public funds for research and 2% for higher education by 2020. Its implementation will be under the full control of the national governments.
  2. Consider the “Grand Challenges” – a term denoting major social problems that cannot be solved in a reasonable time, under acceptable social conditions, without a strong coordinated input requiring both technological and non-technological innovation and, at times, advances in scientific understanding. In a way, the central issue is the other side of the coin of the previous one. Can resources, not just in terms of research but also procurement and other investments, be shifted across European stakeholders to more productive “societal uses” to influence not only the pace but also the direction of technical change and innovation?
  3. Create a strong coordination between research and innovation policies in order to orient innovative activities towards the needs of society. A stage gate approach is suggested, including adequate provision for innovative procurement and pre-commercial procurement practices.
  4. Discuss European versus national research policy approaches. The global financial crisis represents a window of opportunity for more radical reflections on the relationship between Community and national research policies. As fiscal pressures mount in each member state, the question of increasing the efficiency of national research funding agencies and of higher education and public research funding is likely to be raised in coming months and years in many countries.

The opportunities for further deployment of new Community instruments will only be realized if they can demonstrate their particular value for Europe in terms of administrative flexibility and best practice governance. Only then will they play a central role in structuring a new, post-crisis augmented European Research Area (ERA).

Will the Looming Crisis Be Averted in Time?

If issues of effective governance at EU level are not addressed as ones of absolute priority, the crisis shock might actually go the other way: increasingly questioning the value of Community research and leading to a future ERA that is much more based on the member states’ national efforts at attracting research talent within their own borders.

Outlook: Socio-economics & Humanities Re-considered

The stimulating contributions and discussions of this expert group have paved the way for a broad debate at European and world level. This prospective analysis contributes to understanding, anticipating and better shaping future policy and strategy developments in the European Union.

Forward-looking approaches help in building shared visions of the future European challenges and evaluating the impacts of alternative policies. A qualitative and participatory method (‘foresight’) combined with quantitative and operational methods (‘forecast’) allows better long-term policies to develop, like the post-2010 European strategy and the European research and innovation policies. Through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) with its ‘socio-economic sciences and humanities’ theme, the European Union is funding forward-looking activities with around EUR 30 million.

Authors: Anette Braun                 braun_a@vdi.de

Axel Zweck                   zweck@vdi.de

            Sponsors: European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Type: European/international – covering issues from a European or even global perspective
Organizer: European Commission – DG Research – Directorate L  – Science, Economy and Society Unit L2 – Research in the Economic, Social Sciences and Humanities – Prospective
Duration: 2008 Budget: N/A Time Horizon: 2025 Date of Brief: Dec. 2009

 

Download EFP Brief No. 167_The World in 2025

Sources and References

Based on the report ‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition’ (Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2009) and information from the European Commission.

‘The World in 2025 – Rising Asia and socio-ecological transition’ report is available at

http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/pdf/report-the-world-in-2025_en.pdf and

http://ec.europa.eu/research/social-sciences/pdf/the-world-in-2025-report_en.pdf

EFP Brief No. 138: Results of Lab on ‘Old and New Energy’

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

The Club of Amsterdam set up an ‘Old and New Energy Lab’ designed to generate novel and potentially viable plans of action for dealing with energy issues by leveraging brainstorming methods to produce innovative thinking and bypass preconceived ideas and assumptions. The process tapped into the expertise of ‘thought leaders’ chosen for their diversity so as to maximise the fertility of discussions.

Lab Challenges to Think Outside the Box

Diminishing reserves of fossil fuels, climate change, geopo-litical factors and a wave of technological advances are bring-ing complex pressures to bear on the landscape of energy gen-eration and consumption. Change seems inevitable, but react-ing appropriately is a challenge. This is especially so when limited modes of supply and consumption have been en-trenched for extensive periods, as is the case with the energy landscape. This can make it very hard for people to think ‘out-side the box’ – arguably much needed at the moment.Thus the challenge addressed at ‘The Lab’ was to bypass pre-conceptions and traditional ways of thinking. Participants were called upon to brainstorm possibilities and then validate the resulting ideas with some tangible, realistic scenarios.

Conceiving Future Scenarios – the Methodology

Principal approaches employed were Socratic discourse and a future scenario method. Participants were asked to identify a set of driving ‘values’ deemed desirable (e.g. equal access to resources, freedom, quality of life, stability etc.). Socratic dis-course and other techniques were applied to open up discus-sion to the broadest possible level. The outcome was the ob-servation of numerous facts, trends, constraints etc.
The resulting ‘facts’ were then fed into an analysis based on the future scenario method. The values identified earlier were used to drive the scenarios, which were to envision a positive future ten years hence (the goal being to identify possible so-lutions).
Four scenarios were created by choosing two drivers of change: governance and economy. Note that there is nothing absolute about the choice of drivers or even the number of drivers con-sidered, but these were the ones considered most important.
These drivers define the axes of a graph depicting four different environments (symbolized by the numbered circles in the diagram)derived from the possible combinations of extreme cases of both drivers. These environments provided the basis for the scenarios.

138_bild1

Keep in mind that these scenarios are not predictions but simply tools to guide discussion from exploration to identification of potential solutions and analysis of important trends and factors (political, cultural, technological, etc.) and their interactions.

Participants

Four ‘thought leaders’ brought expertise to help keep discussion realistic, whether on technological, economic, political or social levels. Their backgrounds included

  • analysis of new technologies and their commercial and social impact;
  • understanding corruption and conflict resulting from exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems;
  • energy resource analysis and prediction in the context of the International Energy Agency;
  • nuclear policy and law.

Energy Futures – the Four Scenarios

Observations on trends and forces will be split into socioeconomic and cultural, and technological and sectoral. The four scenarios based on these trends and forces will then be outlined before looking at identified opportunities and challenges, which are in turn fed by the scenarios.

Scarcity of Supply, Potential for Conflict, and Environmental Concern – Socio-economic and Cultural Trends/Trend Breaks
  • Rising energy production costs.
  • Concern about climate change (global warming).
  • Increasing sensitivity to energy supply disruption.
  • Concerns over energy dependence and vulnerability.
  • Impending scarcity of fossil fuels with increasing demand from rapidly advancing nations such as China and India.
  • Increasing global tension relating to energy supplies and the possibility of resulting conflict.
  • Environmental concerns about nuclear energy.
  • Increasing interest in alternative energy sources.
  • Increasing interest and efforts in energy conservation.
  • Development of carbon trading schemes.
More Choices and Technological Advances –  Technological and Sectoral Trends/Trend Breaks
  • Capability (in some markets) for energy purchasers to also sell to the grid.
  • Choice (in some markets) over source of energy bought.
  • The nanotechnology ‘revolution’ impacting multiple, interacting energy-related technologies.
  • Multiple parallel and rapid advances in solar technologies promising greater efficiency and/or lower cost.
  • Advances in fuel cells (in many sectors).
  • Advances in batteries and ultracapacitors.
  • Developments in thermoelectrics offering promise for waste heat reclamation and geothermal energy.
  • Availability of smart energy-saving materials (electrochromic or anti-IR window coatings etc.).
  • Lighter/ stronger metals, ceramics and composites.
  • Efficient lighting (especially nanostructured LEDs).
  • Improvements in coal/gas/biomass-to-liquid processes, often driven by improved technology (e.g. nanocatalysis).
  • Advances in hydrogen production and storage.
  • Potential developments in artificial photosynthesis.
  • Potential for low-loss electrical transmission.
  • New CO2 separation technologies.
  • Improved nuclear fission technologies.
The Four Scenarios

Four scenarios were framed assuming environments as described in the methodology section. Remember that they are designed to be optimistic views of a situation ten years hence. Their creation allowed disparate ideas to be brought together in a framework where interactions and socio-economic and political realities could be considered.

Not all the scenarios were recorded in the same degree of detail. Different groups of participants chose different styles of presentation.

 Scenario 1 – ‘Harvesting Energy’ (emerging economy, minimal governance)

The environment envisaged was a poor, sub-Saharan country with village communities as the dominant settlement pattern, poor access to resources and minimal infrastructure. The village in this scenario was assumed to be remote but not overly far from a principal city.

The one plentiful resource is sunshine. New cheap photovoltaics and microloans allow the village to produce electricity. This gives rise to increased productivity and enables more flexibility in trading of staples such as vegetable and meat produce through refrigeration.

The small economic boost and decreasing costs of photovoltaics allow expansion of generating capacity. Direct energy sales become attractive in a future where fossil fuel is expensive and supplies unreliable and the village becomes a supplier of power from solar energy. Improved battery technologies and high fuel prices lead to more electric or hybrid vehicles. Households in and outside the village increasingly use batteries and pay for recharging.

The village has effectively shifted from subsistence agriculture to ‘farming’ sunlight, with batteries as the means of distribution.  The availability of power for transport attracts more vehicles and infrastructure improves. Then cables are laid to directly supply electricity to the nearby city. After all, the village now has the generating capacity, the expertise, and plentiful lowvalue land for expansion. Infrastructure experiences another boost, including communications. The village buys computers and the community now has Internet access. Educational opportunities increase dramatically. Over time the community becomes generally well-educated and thus capable of engaging in even more diverse and complex commercial activities.

Some time in the future (although maybe not in the ten-year frame), solar energy could be captured in a fuel created by artificial photosynthesis, allowing wider export of energy and opening up the solar farming model to more remote communities. This would require importing water (limiting displacement of battery use), but importing water is certainly preferable to importing oil in this (future) day and age.

Scenario 2 – ‘Central Energy Planning’ (emerging economy, strong central governance)

This scenario assumed a top-down, centrally-organised society with an emerging economy. China was offered as an example, on the assumption that much of the traditional communist philosophy still permeates the government, which regulates the allocation of resources. Short-term (business) thinking is constrained for the benefit of the collective when it comes to something as fundamental as national energy supply.

The immediate need for more energy to support growth is urgent. Coal is abundant and coal-fired power stations proliferate, with little thought given to environmental concerns. But this is only the first, quick fix, part of the plan, which is also influenced by oil imports for vehicles, the need to transport energy over great distances and the fact that even coal resources have limits.

Coal-to-liquid processes are used to produce clean diesel to help ease the dependence on oil imports, while a massive research effort creates low-loss electrical transmission based on high-temperature superconductors (doubly important because of the chosen alternative to coal – photovoltaics).

Huge solar ‘plains’ grow in the country’s remote, arid and impoverished west, bringing employment and commerce. Ultimately, the technology becomes simple plastic sheets that can be rolled out and clipped together. They contain nano-engineered structures that exploit the highly-efficient initial step of photosynthesis but feed the liberated electrons into the superconducting transmission lines and on to the energy-hungry coast. China soon becomes a major exporter of these technologies.

In the cities of the East, electric and hybrid cars are encouraged and manufactured. Coal is increasingly used only to produce diesel and dependence on foreign oil now rapidly disappears.

 Scenario 3 – ‘Energy Caps and Taxes’ (strong economy, strong central governance)

Sweden, which aims to become oil-free by 2021, might be an example.

A progressively increasing carbon tax is introduced for individuals and corporations. A flexible power supply network allows individuals to avoid a carbon tax by purchasing energy from sustainable sources. This encourages development of such sources – from the logging and papermaking industries using waste to produce electricity, heat and biofuels, down to individual households generating energy and selling any surplus to the grid.

Central support and legislation for energy-saving technologies in housing and transport increases their uptake through various means. The carbon tax imposes a cost on manufacturers for the lifetime emissions of their products.  The tax alone triggers substantial change, but more comes through governmentdriven, large-scale geothermal, hydroelectric and combined heat and power schemes.

 Scenario 4 – ‘Communicating Energy’ (strong economy, minimal governance, individual action)

This scenario is one of change through popular movements. Analogies might be seen in the growth in the popularity of ‘organic’ produce or that of ‘fair trade’ products, both of which evolved out of grass roots concern. For instance, we can help the environment by buying local produce rather than that shipped great distances, or eating less meat (such unlikely action probably highlights limits to this approach). Other individual contributions are switching lights off, car-pooling, capturing rainwater to water one’s garden or carbon offsetting schemes.

The key is understanding what can be done and creating a culture of willingness and responsibility. Communication is key and the Internet makes this possible as never before.

To some extent this scenario is happening now, but there are clearly limits to how much it can achieve without some topdown initiatives (or economic imperatives) added to the mix.

Top-down Action and Technological Advances are Critical for Seizing Opportunities

The fact that all but one of the scenarios could conceivably address all the main energy issues points to much opportunity. Exploiting this rapidly enough is a major challenge. Another obvious challenge is highlighted by Scenario 4, which suggests that, at least in the developed world, ‘people power’ is not enough and top-down governmental action may well be necessary. Economic and practical pressures would achieve the necessary changes eventually, but it is probably not advisable to wait for the hurricane to prove that you should not have made your house of straw. As for opportunities, the scenarios explored highlight those best. Scenario 1, ‘Harvesting Energy’,
perhaps best illustrates the dramatic achievement that might be had given only certain technological advances. Many other scenarios are possible, of course, and those developed were deliberately positive. But the consensus at The Lab was that all the scenarios were credible, so they probably do represent real opportunities.

Diverse Solutions, Proactive  Government and Advances  in Technology Are Key

In view of policy implications, the full two days of discussion and debate might be briefly summarized in the following manner.1

Oil dependence is a danger that needs addressing

Despite much disagreement about how close ‘peak oil’ is, all seemed to agree that action is needed now to reduce the developed world’s dependence on oil.

Solutions to the problems being faced will be diverse

Different environments are likely to beg different solutions and the diversity of technological developments that bear on the issues prevent simple answers and argue for multiple alternatives to be investigated.

The variation across the scenarios developed suggests that multiple approaches will be needed in parallel, covering conservation, alternative forms of generation, and storage and transmission technologies. The best solution or combination of solutions for a given region will vary with external factors (climate, population density, access to water, etc.) and with developments in numerous interacting technologies. The appropriate focus can vary dramatically depending on the existing situation. For example, a focus on coal in the short-term is sensible for China, if the aim is energy independence, while France might see nuclear in a similar light. In lower latitudes, solar energy will be more quickly economically viable than in higher latitudes, where geothermal may be a better choice. In all cases, conservation makes sense as a priority and gives the most rapid return on investment.

Given this diversity and uncertainty, it seems sensible to recommend broad investment in energy-related R&D and a systematic, inclusive, and iterative analysis of the energy situation at regional scales.

It is worth noting that only two currently achievable sources of energy are sufficient for global needs in the long-term and truly sustainable. They are solar and geothermal energy.

Areas of technological focus to be considered are just as diverse – see section 2 on technological and sectoral trends.

In the developed world government action is probably essential

The ramifications of energy supply disruption and the time needed to change our infrastructure suggest that appropriate change cannot be expected to arise from market and social forces. Accordingly, governments need to be a key player in developed countries. Proactive action from government is almost certainly necessary to avoid the risk of severe economic disruption.

Much of the rest is down to technological developments and their impacts on the economic competitiveness of certain technologies. Though solar emerged from the Lab as the winner in terms of chief long-term global energy sources, the means of capturing it, transporting it and using it produced no clear favourites. The range of possibilities from domestic to industrial to automotive applications in a diverse range of environments suggests that all avenues of research should be actively explored. Since solutions will likely be more complex than the current rather monolithic systems, flexibility, interoperability and rapid adaptability are critical success factors.

In the under-developed world, small changes or actions may have a large and lasting positive effect

When tackling the issue of poverty on a global scale, there may be a possibility of achieving much with little (Scenario 1), given certain technological shifts.

 

Authors: Paul Holister                  paul9@holisters.net
Sponsors: Club of Amsterdam
Type: Field/sector specific
Organizer: Humberto Schwab, humberto@clubofamsterdam.com, Felix Bopp, felix@clubofamsterdam.com
Duration: April 2007
Budget: n.a.
Time Horizon: 2017
Date of Brief: April 2008

Download: EFMN Brief No. 138_ Energy Lab

Sources and References

Club of Amsterdam, Lab on Old and New Energy, April 17 and 18, 2007, in Girona, Spain.

http://www.clubofamsterdam.com/content_list.asp?contentid= 655&contenttypeid=9 

The participating thought leaders were:

  • Nathalie Horbach – Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy, University of Dundee;
  • Simon Taylor – director and co-founder, Global Witness;
  • Christof van Agt – independent participant, formerly at the International Energy Agency;
  • Paul Holister – technology impact consultant.

Humberto Schwab, director of the Club of Amsterdam and innovation philosopher, led the process.

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