The role of lock-in mechanisms in transition processes: The case of energy for road transport

Antje Klitkou, Simon Bolwig, Teis Hansen, Nina Wessberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    208 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper revisits the theoretical concepts of lock-in mechanisms to analyse transition processes in energy production and road transportation in the Nordic countries, focussing on three technology platforms: advanced biofuels, e-mobility and hydrogen and fuel cell electrical vehicles. The paper is based on a comparative analysis of case studies. The main lock-in mechanisms analysed are learning effects, economies of scale, economies of scope, network externalities, informational increasing returns, technological interrelatedness, collective action, institutional learning effects and the differentiation of power. We show that very different path dependencies have been reinforced by the lock-in mechanisms. Hence, the characteristics of existing regimes set the preconditions for the development of new transition pathways. The incumbent socio-technical regime is not just fossil-based, but may also include mature niches specialised in the exploitation of renew-able sources. This implies a need to distinguish between lock-in mechanisms favouring the old fossil-based regime, well-established (mature) renewable energy niches, or new pathways.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-37
    JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • path dependency
    • lock-in mechanism
    • transition process
    • road transport
    • renewable energy


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