Transport energy futures: exploring the geographical dimension

Document Type


Publication details

Charles, MB, To, H, Gillett, P, von der Heidt, T & Kivits, R 2011, 'Transport energy futures: exploring the geographical dimension ', Futures, vol. 43, no. 10, pp. 1142-1153.

The published version of this article is available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2011.07.012

Peer Reviewed



The future of road transport, being currently reliant on carbon-based liquid fuels, is largely unclear. Some advocate the necessity of single renewable energy paradigm, but its realization is potentially fraught with difficulty owing to technological challenges, existing sunk costs, and path dependencies associated with existing and emerging options. It could also result in disadvantageous outcomes to emerging economies. Another school of thought proposes that future road transport, even within single nations, will require multiple energy types, mainly because a single source will be insufficient to meet projected needs. A multiple paradigm has the potential to be expensive because several infrastructures have to be implemented simultaneously. This paper aims to assess both concepts by considering the largely neglected dimensions of resource location and regional geophysical attributes, in addition to national technical expertise, industry capacity and modal factors. Case studies from both the developed world (the European Union and Australia) and the developing world (sub-Saharan Africa and China) will assess the possibility of implementing a single transport energy paradigm versus a more pluralistic regime. The results will help to inform policy making and enable greater foresight with regard to making long-term transport infrastructure investment decisions.