Local decisions in the Finnish energy production network a socio-technical perspective

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    The purpose of this article is to evaluate decisions on local energy production in the context of the national energy production system in Finland. The article is based on two case studies on the establishment of district heating. A particular focus is placed on the choice between forest fuel and heavy fuel oil in these two cases in the late 1970s in Finland. Energy production is on a general level understood from the point of view of the national scale. For instance, the Finnish energy production is discussed as a whole, which enforces us to use averages and generalisations when describing the system. Energy production is however, always local action with concrete local solutions, production plants and systems as well as local environmental impact. The national scale is comprised of local scale solutions as well as national scale tendencies, which interact. This study tries to understand the complex relationship between these two interacting scales by focusing on concrete action at the local scale development. According to the results of this study, the national scale, the mainstream, dominates, but does not determinate, the decision-making at the local level. Energy production is a socio-technical system. The development of this system is dominated by a technological momentum, which in turn is threatened by human or non-human innovator-promoters. Innovator-promoters are manifestation of the openness of the socio-technical system: the system is not a deterministic closed system, but open to change. The role of technological momentum and innovator-promoters explain the complex development of the socio-technical system both at the local and national scale. The study conforms strongly to the notion that local scale pioneering decisions are possible, and encourages the belief that these pioneering decisions can shape the development at the national scale and turn the development of it into new trajectories.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-146
    JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
    Issue number2-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • decision-making
    • energy production
    • socio-technical system
    • technological momentum
    • innovator-promoter


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