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The Geopolitics of Energy

Swedish International Dependencies in a Historical Perspective

The overall purpose of this project is thus to study Sweden’s foreign dependencies in the energy field in the 20th century. Specifically, we will analyze how public and private actors perceived these dependencies at different points in time, and what kind of strategies and policies they pursued to decrease the vulnerabilities.

The project will cover three themes:

1. First, we will analyze the power over energy imports, and specifically the role of the state vis-à-vis private enterprise. Up to the mid 20th century, private companies handled most energy imports, but later on partly or fully state owned companies have played an increasing role. How and why has the role of the state changed over time? And has this role differed from one type of energy source to another?

2. Second, we will study Swedish geopolitics abroad, e.g. attempts by Swedish actors to participate in exploration of energy resources outside Swedish borders, and also attempts to make long term agreements with exporting countries or to cooperate with other importing countries. When, by whom and how have such attempts been made, and what have been the outcomes?

3. Third, attempts to make energy systems within Sweden more flexible and robust to disturbances in energy imports.

A central hypothesis that will be tested in the project is that, in terms of the above themes, it is possible to identify a distinct but evolving ‘Swedish model’ in attempts to deal with vulnerabilities stemming from energy import dependence.

The project is highly interdisciplinary, and focus not only on energy but also other components of system: information, key stakeholders and the interdependencies of these. We are engaged in the project are social scientists, and we have  a distinct historical approach, but we also have a double competence as engineers.

Period: 2012-01-01 - 2014-03-31

Funding: Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet)

Project leader: Arne Kaijser

Researcher from KTH: Maja Fjaestad, Per Högselius, Anna Åberg