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STEPS Sintesi della relazione

Project ID: 506310
Finanziato nell'ambito di: FP6-SUSTDEV
Paese: Netherlands

Final Report Summary - STEPS (Scenarios for the Transport System and Energy Supply and their Potential Effects)

The STEPS project was designed and implemented by a group of institutes, companies and universities to achieve the tasks of Research Domain 1.10 within the Sixth Framework Programme FP6) for Research and Technological Development of the European Commission.

The STEPS project had the following overall objective: to develop, compare and assess possible scenarios for the transport system and energy supply of the future taking into account the state of the art of relevant research within and outside of FP6 and such criteria as the autonomy and security of energy supply, effects on the environment and economic, technical and industrial viability including the impact of potential cost internalisation and the interactions between transport and land use. To achieve this overall objective, the STEPS project was divided into several tasks with their own specific objectives.

The future framework of the transport system is intimately linked with the general energy supply of the future. The relatively cheap availability of petroleum oil has allowed great expansion of the transport system over the past hundred years. This relationship between energy supply and vehicle technology and the characteristics of the transport system is typified by the internal combustion engines that power much of the transport system. The wide availability of fuel, its relative cheapness, and the relative simplicity of the engine itself and the storage requirements has meant that transport system has facilitated an era of increased dispersion of activities with high levels of mobility for those who can afford it. The nature of the fuel technology and economy has been a major influence of the transport system and mobility patterns of today.

However, circumstances are changing. There is an increasing concern about the environmental consequences of the fuel technology used. Just as important are the concerns over the future availability of the fuel required. The recurrent crises and even wars in some areas where oil and gas is produced and the instability of political systems in other fuel producing areas only adds to this. Driven by these issues, a wide range of new or improved fuel technologies are being proposed and developed.

Each alternative fuel technology brings with it issues over the wider consequences of its adoption. These issues include the autonomy and security of the fuel supply, the infrastructure requirements of the fuel technology, the implications for the possible pattern of use of the vehicles, and so possible changes in the patterns of mobility with its impact on land use. There will also be political, social and environmental issues to be considered with the assessment which technologies should be encouraged and invested in. Just as the future is not certain, nor are the eventual 'winners' from amongst the new technologies. There are technological risks with all new technologies, combined with the uncertainties in the energy, social and economic future. The implications of the various futures are best considered by investigation of a series of scenarios reflecting a range of 'best' estimates of future conditions in the energy, transport, economic and social fields.

The project started with mapping the state of the art, and description of relevant trends in transport and energy supply systems. With these outcomes, a basic set of scenarios was compiled. Two main variables marked the scenario framework. The first was fuel price increase, which is directly related to energy scarcity. In the coming decades the fuel price increase may be as generally accepted in current times, or energy may be subject to more severe scarcity (so pointing to a faster increase in the fuel price). The second variable is represented by the policies that various authorities deploy in response. Will the policy response be like 'business as usual' (not specifically meant to target transport system and its energy supply)? Will there be more targeted policies, for example technology investment to adapt with the use of innovative technologies, or use of more stringent demand management?

The scenarios were simulated with existing integrated land use - transport models, both on the European scale and on the regional scale. The regional models covered five diverse regions in Europe: Edinburgh, Dortmund, Helsinki and Brussels with their respective surrounding regions, and the region of South Tyrol in Northern Italy. Partly, the scenarios worked together to produce the input needed to calculate all parameters needed. In some cases, results from the European models could be used as input in the calculations within the more detailed regional models. The prognosis year was typically 2030 (in some cases 2020). The outcomes were described in an extensive overview of their impacts. The modelling exercise provided indications about the development of several variables (transport demand, economy, energy consumption, emissions, etc.) over the period 2005 - 2020 / 2030 under the different scenarios.

To acquire a good picture of their comparability, the scenario modelling results were subjected to a meta-analysis. This gave the possibility to cross-validate the model results, which was needed because of some major differences between the models (their cities, regions) and model techniques. For example the urban regions are of various sizes, show either growth or decline and are administered in various ways and with various policies.

With the meta-analysis showing that the model results were in reasonable agreement about major environmental effects and societal behavioural responses, the assessment and comparison of scenarios was conducted using a multi-criteria analysis. All scenarios were firstly tested as to current policy objectives on the European scale. To establish a valid and credible evaluation framework, a questionnaire was sent to a group of politicians and experts in the transport and energy fields to enquire what aspects they thought were most important: energy (including reducing consumption and dependence upon import), environmental aspects (emission reduction, global warming), social aspects (e.g. safety) and economic aspects (like competitiveness, employment, GDP and the decoupling of transport growth and economic growth). The resulting weight set was used to calculate value functions to assess the scenarios as to the fuel price effect and the policy effect.

It was concluded that energy and environmental criteria improve in all scenarios and models. Demand management does, in the long term, appear to be more effective than technology investments but this is quite sensitive to the actual policy package which is selected, its efficiency and the way fuel prices will develop. The predicted effect on social criteria is not as straightforward. Both fuel price increases and policy measures tend to result in higher transport costs, mobility constraints and reduced accessibility. Economic development for large parts of Europe could be at stake because of this, and investment in new, sustainable technologies might be a preferable option for a better future for transport systems and their energy supplies.

The results of STEPS constitute a valuable synthesis of the main findings on trends and policy scenarios and their predicted effects. STEPS results serve as a basis for the development of a view on future policy and give insight into research requirements in the area of transport and energy scenarios.

This project has created a valuable contribution in the hugely complicated trade-off between energy and the energy sustainability of our transport networks on the one side, and economic development on the other. To what extent can economic growth be threatened in order to achieve, for example, environmental or social goals? What dilemmas are really crucial for decision makers? Can global megatrends be reversed, and to what extent? Regarding the scenarios' impacts, what aspects can be more important than the air that we breathe, the food that we eat or the safety of our loved ones? These are profound items to be addressed in the coming decades. We as a project partnership do not think that we can provide actual answers to these issues, but STEPS might well help by taking a small and enlightening peek in the future.

The future of energy supply to the transport system will be closely tied to the development and the options in stationary power plants. Hence, there will probably be no partial energy supply system dedicated to transport but rather a global energy supply model shared by most applications including transport, which will adopt energy carriers rather than primary sources to fulfil mobility needs, necessarily bringing the discussion on this subject to a higher strategic level than is currently the case.

The transport projects co-financed by the EU under the Structural and Cohesion Funds need to be re-assessed with more emphasis given to energy saving and sustainability targets.

There is an urgent need to mobilise and combine fossil fuel-based energy supply concerns as a supporting driver for CO2 reduction, since both challenges largely call for measures of a similar type. There seems to be no single policy solution to solve the energy supply issue to transport which brings us to the point that a multi-instrument approach is required if we want to reverse energy supply trends and associated problems.

Particular attention should be paid to road transport, where most of the energy demand and CO2 emissions in transportation have their origin. In particular, regarding private transport performance, there will be a need to create a level playing field to market more energy-efficient power trains and climate neutral (bio-) fuels. It is also necessary to promote a more energy-efficient driving style (supported by in-car devices), traffic management to improve traffic flow, and innovations in logistics and freight demand management, where GALILEO applications will play a crucial role. European transport policy should therefore make maximum use of the potential of GALILEO as an instrument to implement energy saving oriented policies.

The combined use of European models and regional models proved successful in examining effects of the scenarios at European and regional level. Linking the regional response to the more global modelling applied in environmental studies and climatic change analyses could add an additional dimension to the scenario assessment.

The policies analysed in STEPS, are general strategies, rather than specific, operational policy measures. Policy measures will only be implemented if they have sufficient social and political support. Creating the basis for change is a process that can be stimulated through information, education, etc. STEPS clearly shows that change will be necessary. Anticipating this by starting the process of creating a social basis for change, will help smooth the transition, rather than waiting for shocks in the global energy markets to dictate sudden policy decisions with potential drastic effects.

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