Path dependence in energy systems and economic development

Energy systems are subject to strong and long-lived path dependence, owing to technological, infrastructural, institutional and behavioural lock-ins. Yet, with the prospect of providing accessible cheap energy to stimulate economic development and reduce poverty, governments often invest in large engineering projects and subsidy policies. Here, I argue that while these may achieve their objectives, they risk locking their economies onto energy-intensive pathways. Thus, particularly when economies are industrializing, and their energy systems are being transformed and are not yet fully locked-in, policymakers should take care before directing their economies onto energy-intensive pathways that are likely to be detrimental to their long-run prosperity.

Fouquet, Roger (2016). In: Nature Energy, 1 . p. 16098. ISSN 2058-7546