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Scenarios for the Transport System and Energy Supply and their Potential Effects

The aim of this project is 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 and such criteria as the autonomy and security of energy supplies, effects on the environment and economy, and the interactions between transport and land use.

Tags: Multimodal


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.

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 add to this.

Driven by these issues, a wide range of new or improved fuel technologies are being proposed and developed, each with its issues over the wider consequences of its adoption.

The implications of the various futures are best considered by investigating a series of scenarios reflecting a range of ‘best’ estimates of future conditions in the energy, transport, economic and social fields. This explains the background behind the STEPs project.


To achieve the overall objective, STEPs has chosen a two-way approach. The consortium has come up with a work plan consisting of two main activity ‘lines’:

  • coordination activities (cluster meetings, dissemination, publications, etc.)
  • supporting research activities (scenario development, evaluation and assessment).

These two lines of activities are closely related and constantly influencing each other. In all phases of the project, the interlinking of the two paths will ensure a fruitful cross-fertilisation. Moreover, the chosen approach offers a benefit to a project plan that is strictly confined to one of the two activities (research and coordination/dissemination).

To achieve the projects goals, a well-balanced consortium of renowned research institutes, experienced in the fields of scenario-building and modelling, transport research and energy has been composed. Together with external experts, representatives of governments and other relevant authorities, market parties, and transport and energy organisations, this consortium will make the possible consequences of transport systems and energy supplies of the future for the implementation of transport innovations, or the lack thereof, clear.

The STEPs project tasks
The STEPs project tasks
The STEPs consortium

Description of work

The project started with mapping the state of the art and a 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 increases, which are directly related to energy scarcity. In the coming decades the fuel price increase may be as generally accepted as in current times, or energy may be subject to a greater 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. This can be either ‘business as usual’ (not specifically meant to target transport systems and their energy supply) or there can be more targeted policies, (technology investment 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 (Edinburgh, Dortmund, Helsinki and Brussels with their surrounding regions, and the South Tyrol in Northern Italy).

The prognosis year was typically 2030 (in some cases 2020) and 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 or 2030 under the different scenarios.


For details of the deliverables, please see the STEPs website:

D1 State-of-the-art

D2 Overview of relevant trends and translation into parameters

D3.1 Framework of the scenarios and description of the themes

D3.3 A bee with a view – essay

D4.1 Modelling suite for scenarios simulations

D4.2 Scenario impacts

D5.1 Methodology for the assessment of transport and energy supply scenarios – database requirements

D5.2 Assessment and comparison of scenarios

D6 Conclusions, recommendations and need for further research

D8.1 Report on the first Cluster Meeting, Budapest, 25 November 2004

D8.2 Report of the second Cluster Meeting, Krakow, 29 May 2005

D8.3 Report on the third Cluster Meeting, Gothenburg, 15 June 2006

Furthermore, an integral final report was published:

Monzón A. and Nuijten A. (editors): ‘Transport strategies under the scarcity of energy supply’. Buck Consultants International, Den Haag/Nijmegen/Brussels, ISBN-10: 90-9020880-1 and ISBN-13: 978-90-9020880-0, 2006.