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Solar Energy 173 (2018) 272–276 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Solar Energy journal homepage:

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Solar Energy

Energy journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/solener Dealing with victor's history in renewable energy

Dealing with victor's history in renewable energy education for transportation applications

Ari Lampinen

Strömstad Academy, SE-45280 Strömstad, Sweden




Renewable energy in transportation Education for climate change mitigation Non-technical barriers Victor s history bias Carbon lock-in


Renewable energy utilization in transportation applications (RES-T) belongs to the key elds of climate change mitigation. RES-T education is needed for evading climate crisis, but it faces serious obstacles. Low awareness among the general public and technology professionals of opportunities o ered by RES-T technologies is at- tributable to various non-technical issues. One of these issues is misrepresentation of crude oil based fuels in many historical accounts of transportation technology evolution. It is argued that this phenomenon has re- semblance to the famous bias found in war history, the tendency to write history from the perspective of the victors. In this case victors are companies instead of armies. However, although the end result is similar, the process is di erent. It is usually not recognized in relevant educational curriculums that all transport modes were originally RES-T powered and RES-T technologies have always been utilized in varying degrees, also today. The relevant edu- cational curriculums also tend to ignore both technological and environmental advantages o ered by RES-T, in comparison with current conventional transportation technologies. Victors history bias requires immediate attention as one of the core challenges underlying these educational problems.

1. Introduction

Renewable energy sources in transportation (RES-T 1 ) cover only 3% of global transportation energy demand. As a comparison, renewables have well over 20% share of global energy demand in electricity (RES- E) and thermal energy (RES-H/C) sectors. Only 4% of global renewable energy supply is consumed in the transportation sector ( IEA, 2017 ). Despite continuously increasing political e orts to address en- vironmental problems originating from fossil fuels, progress in the transportation sector has been very slow. Shortcomings in both general education and professional technical education have contributed to this failure. Low awareness among the general public and technology profes- sionals of opportunities o ered by RES-T technologies is attributable to various non-technical issues. One of these issues is misrepresentation of crude oil based fuels in many historical accounts of transportation

technology evolution. RES-T technologies have outstanding historical foundation to base on. Almost all transportation modes and vehicle types were originally powered by renewables. Coal is the only fossil energy source that has contributed to emergence of new transportation modes and vehicle types. Some of the historical merits of RES-T technologies are well known to the general public, especially the role of wind energy in water transportation. But there are many cases where pioneering credits are conventionally misplaced in favor of crude oil. This has negatively impacted understanding of the role RES-T technologies have played so far and, therefore, what roles they could play in the future. The resulting lack of awareness has detrimental e ects in policies combating climate change and other environmental problems caused by fossil fuel consumption. Ignoring the opportunities o ered by RES-T technologies bears ominous resemblance to the aircraft accident type called controlled ight into terrain (CFIT). In 2010 2014 it was the

Abbreviations: AFV, Alternatively Fueled Vehicle (powered by other than conventional crude oil based fuels); CFIT, Controlled Flight Into Terrain; CRM, Crew Resource Management; GHG, GreenHouse Gas; ICE, Internal Combustion Engine; RES-T, Renewable primary Energy Sources in Transportation energy generation; RES-E, Renewable primary Energy Sources in Electric energy generation; RES-H, Renewable primary Energy Sources in Heating energy generation; RES-C, Renewable primary Energy Sources in Cooling energy generation; RES-H/C, Renewable primary Energy Sources in thermal energy generation; WTW, Well-to-Wheel E-mail address: ari.lampinen@stromstadakademi.se . 1 These RES-T, RES-E and other renewable energy end-use sector abbreviations are included in the European Union energy and climate law. Therefore, they are covered in energy and climate education in the European Union. However, they are not globally recognized, in general. RES-T is frequently used in this article because it condenses the topic in question well.

Received 3 July 2018; Received in revised form 23 July 2018; Accepted 26 July 2018

0038-092X/ © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

A. Lampinen

second largest fatal aircraft accident category globally, and the most severe type of accident, as 91% of these accidents involved fatalities ( IATA, 2015 ). It is an accident, where a functional aircraft crashes unintentionally by pilot control. It is caused by the loss of situational awareness, which means xation into non-essentials and ignoring es- sentials. In all these accidents multiple warnings have been given to the pilots by the aircraft electronics and almost always also by crew members. In the analogous case of climate change control, the threat became clear to physicists in the 1960s: they submitted a request for immediate problem solving action to the United Nations, which took the issue in its agenda in 1970 (Weart, 1997 ). Since the rst UN environmental summit in 1972, the pilots of the Earth have received warnings with increasing severity, but situational awareness still has not been achieved. Fixation into fossil fuels blocks warnings and prevents ap- plication of correct controls to avert the impending catastrophe.

2. The educational challenge

This section is devoted to description of the underlying educational challenge. Trac lights with colors having well established familiar meanings are applied here as educational tools ( Fig. 1). All kind of decision making processes including aircraft control, steering climate policies and choosing next car based on energy sources it is able to utilize involve di erent types of inputs. Five basic input types are represented in Fig. 1 by tra c lights. Green light (informa- tion) means correct input based on scienti c method. Red lights mean incorrect inputs originating from honest misunderstandings (mis- information) or purposefully created incorrect information (disin- formation). Both green and red lights represent inputs based on phy- sical reality, whether they are right or wrong. Therefore, all of them include information in their labels. Yellow lights represent inputs that

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are not explicitly tied to physical reality. Unconscious inputs are ac- tions, e.g. hand or foot control, generated directly by visual and other sensory signals, without mental processing between them. Free thought means inputs generated by mental processes with insu cient data basis. Yellow color is used here, because both of these input types may produce correct, incorrect or neutral (no impact) decisions. The ability to choose green inputs, reject red inputs and govern yellow inputs in decision making processes is a skill, which in compli- cated issues need to be re ned by educational curriculums. The airline industry and administration combat the CFIT problem by CRM (Crew Resource Management). It is an educational curriculum for increasing the awareness of the whole crew and for establishing communication protocols to enable swift delivery of crucial information to pilots from all crew members, and via cabin crew also from passengers. This ad- dresses governance of the yellow inputs, which may prevent green in- puts from reaching pilot attention. It is a more subtle issue than handling the red inputs, which in the case of aircraft mean technical malfunctions (misinformation) and sabotage (disinformation). Climate change related decision making still suers from over- whelming burden of red inputs (arising from climate skepticism, in- dustrial protectionism, etc.) and yellow inputs (arising from low en- vironmental awareness, inadequate education, etc.). They maintain policy inertia at all levels: from households to companies and organi- zations, and from subnational to national and global administrations. This policy inertia, called carbon lock-in, is described by Unruh (2000, 817) the following way: “…carbon lock-in creates persistent market and policy failures that can inhibit the di usion of carbon-saving technol- ogies despite their environmental and economic advantages. The cli- mate change crisis can be solved, if attention is focused on proper management of the ows of di erent types of signals. This is the edu- cational core problem. The ozone layer crisis provides a valuable lesson and encouragement. Removal of the red inputs (arising from ozone

Free Mis- thought information Information Control? Dis- Unconscious information

Fig. 1. Green, yellow and red inputs for decision making processes. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this gure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)


A. Lampinen

skepticism, industrial protectionism, etc.) was required to solve the problem (Christie, 2001 ). This paper focuses on transportation, because among the climate change mitigation policy sectors it is especially vulnerable to red inputs, as slow progress demonstrates. Profound misunderstanding that mobi- lity requires crude oil has prevented the necessary transition to sus- tainable renewable primary energy sources in transportation energy consumption. Two examples are given, both of which concern replacement of conventional fossil fuel technologies by RES-T technologies. An ex- ample called victor s history is the main theme, but to make sure it cannot be considered an isolated phenomenon, another example is given rst. It points attention to the abuse of energy e ciency, which has proven a seductive way to misdirect attention ( Fig. 2 ). Biofuels have higher lifecycle energy consumption than crude oil based fuels, as the horizontal axis in Fig. 2 shows. Nature has rened liquid and gaseous primary fossil resources to a level, where little ad- ditional energy is needed for bringing them to market. Biofuels are unable to compete in this aspect for a fundamental reason. 2 But biofuels o er very large cuts in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, even more than 100% in some cases, as the vertical axis in Fig. 2 shows. 3 It means that increase of energy consumption is required for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This is counter-intuitive like the notions of round Earth, rotation of Earth around Sun and the innocence of Sun regarding climate change. Therefore, yellow inputs tend to align in favor of crude oil dependency in educational regimes where RES-T education is absent, i.e. green inputs are weak. Red inputs would hardly be needed, but in this case they shine at especially strong intensity. Industrial disinformation suggests that energy e ciency is the main environmental indicator, although it actually is not an environmental indicator at all. Environmental indicators (such as emissions) measure environmental impacts, whereas energy e ciency is a background factor. Whether energy eciency increases or decreases, environmental impacts may increase or decrease. The energy e ciency misconception has inltrated into administrations, strategies, legislation, education and many types of organizations, where expertise is sought. They pro- vide misinformation in support of the crude oil dependency. Strength- ening green inputs by RES-T education at all levels is required for re- covering this seductive trap.

3. Victor s history bias

3.1. Description of the problem

A bias called victor s history is responsible for some of the red and yellow inputs described in Section 2 , especially within the transporta- tion sector. The original meaning of this concept is the historiographical problem generated when history is written by victors of wars. 4 Similar

2 This applies to primary bioenergy resources and almost all waste resources. However, there are rare cases, where waste resources may not lose in this re- spect to conventional fuels. The JRC (2014) study includes one such example:

used cooking oil. 3 More than 100% GHG reduction is possible for some biogas production chains, because they decrease methane emissions that would occur, if biogas production were not implemented. The JRC (2014) study includes some of those production chains. 4 A general review of the bias problem in scholarly history is provided by Mccullagh (2000) . For scholars the best (or among the best) early example of the victor s history bias is the written works of Julius Caesar. For the general audience this concept may be most familiar (if at all) by public comments of Nobel literature laureate and war leader Winston Churchill, author of major historical accounts of the First and the Second World Wars, as he publicly told that these books have been written from the perspective of the victors. In both these cases direct personal involvement is a major background factor, but si- milar bias is found also in the accounts of seemingly objective or outside


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150 Conventional crude oil fuels 100 50 Biofuels 0 -50 -100 -150 0 100 200
Conventional crude oil fuels
WTW greenhosue gas emissions [gCO2eq/km]

Total WTW energy [MJ/100 km]

Fig. 2. Locating the energy eciency abuse problem: lifecycle (WTW = Well- to-Wheel) greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption of modern mid- size ICE cars powered by conventional crude oil based fuels (gasoline and diesel) or biofuels. (This illustration is based on data published by the Joint Research Center of the European Commission ( JRC, 2014 ). It is a simplied representation of a selected set for an average modern mid-size ICE car.)

issues are found in economic history, which include development of transportation. Surviving companies tell histories from their perspec- tives, with natural tendencies to omit predecessors and rivals. Focus here is on those vehicle manufacturers that emerged as victors of the epochal transition from renewable to fossil fuels , as characterized by Smil (2000, 22) , at the dawn of the twentieth century. One side e ect of this transition was the dominance of crude oil based mobility as we see today in everyday life. It was a result of a successful market takeover from electric ( Kirsch, 2000 ), ethanol ( Kovarik, 1998 ) and several other vehicles types, which eventually became known as alternative fueled vehicles (AFV). Professional inclusion of wide variety of historical records and in- herent attention into selection bias phenomenon make sure that com- pany histories are not the core of scholarly accounts of history of technology. But history of technology written for the general public is often based on lighter and easier accessible sources, such as company histories. Therefore, victor s history problem can be identi ed in school books and museums; although scienti c method based information in academic literature covering the same issues does not support it ( Fig. 3 ). Victor s history bias inuences negatively public awareness of RES- T. Recognition of the role RES-T technologies have played in develop- ment of modern transportation is one key aspect requiring attention within the educational challenge discussed in Section 2 . Losing track of past development inhibits proper planning of future development from domestic to municipal, national and international levels. Although contributions from renewable energy sources and technologies are sometimes ignored in any transport mode, gravity of the problem is small in many of them ( Table 1 ). Victor s history bias is a common denominator of the two transport modes experiencing severe problems:

motorized road transport and air transport. Having impact on motor- ized road transport, the victor s history bias generates widespread misunderstandings for the general public and technology professionals. This mode of transport has dominating share of energy consumption in transportation, and it is a part of everyday life for all. Unlike in other transport modes, all people have power to in uence energy choices in motorized road transport.

( footnote continued) observers. Political bias is an easy explanation in supercial accounts, but in deeper, more scholarly, accounts justi cation of events as they unfolded is a core reason for this unjusti able bias.

A. Lampinen

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Scholarly history of technology provides scientific information => no bias Company histories are commercial
Scholarly history of technology
provides scientific information
=> no bias
Company histories are commercial advertisements
=> almost all companies claim to be first in the world
in something
=> although disinformation can be identified, it is not
an actual problem due to known nature of advertising
History of technology for the general public often misbalanced
by disinformation => misinformation for the general public

Fig. 3. Locating the victor s history problem.

Table 1 Educational problem of understanding the role of RES-T technologies.

Gravity of the problem

Transport modes


Very small

Light land transport Water transport Rail transport

- Known from general history, no inventors - Wide-spread historical and current use - Known from general history - Wide-spread historical and current use - Inadequate attention in general - Primary energy sources ignored - victor s history bias + everyday experiences = > misinformation



O-road, underwater, pipeline and underground transport Space and planetary transport Motorized road transport Air transport



Table 2 Background of misplaced rst innovation credits for 3 vehicle types.


Motorcycle: Daimler

Car: Benz

Airplane: Wrights




Vehicle survived? First experimental? First commercial? First practical? First ICE? First gasoline powered? Company survived?






















The victor s history bias is revealed in its clearest form by misplaced credits given to inventors and vehicles. Outstanding examples are the Daimler motorcycle from 1885, the Benz car from 1886 and the Wright airplane from 1903. They are commonly miscredited as the rst mo- torcycle, car and airplane ( Lampinen, 2011 ). Unlike most of their pre- decessors, all of them are gasoline powered and manufactured by sur- viving companies ( Table 2 ). They are especially striking cases, because several earlier vehicles of each type have survived and can be viewed at some of the most pro- minent museums of the world. Some of the predecessors are listed in Table 3 .

3.2. Dealing with the problem in RES-T education

Dealing with the victor s history bias in educational curriculum may

be divided into the following functional groups:

I. Renewed historical narrative

a. Error discovery

b. Error non-acceptance

c. Error correction

II. Explicit description of the problem

a. Learning from the errors

b. Remembering errors

Renewed historical narrative simply means teaching history of technologies based on scholarly references honoring the scienti c principle, written by academic professional researchers of history of technology and economic history. However, attention needs to be paid implicitly to the errors caused by the use of company histories in the present narratives. This task is signi cantly simpli ed by exploiting symmetrical features between transport modes with and without vic- tor s history bias problem, as shown in Table 1 . Inventor, time of in- vention and place of rst use is not known now and will never be known for boats and ships, and this is true also for cars, motorcycles and airplanes. All types of vehicles and transport modes have evolved over long periods of time, contributed by numerous inventors and

Table 3 Examples of vehicles preceding the inventions of Daimler, Benz and the Wright brothers.





Historical evidence

1800 BCE (unknown) Egypt

Commercial truck

Wind Black powder Coal Wood gas, hydrogen

Part of a vehicle from 19th century BCE has survived Historical archives First was destroyed, but second, built in 1770, has survived Historical archives, newspapers


(unknown) China

Experimental airplane


Joseph Cugnot, France

Experimental truck


Samuel Brown, UK

Experimental ICE car


Samuel Morey, USA

Experimental ICE car

Turpentine, ethanol, methanol Historical archives, newspapers


Goldsworthy Gurney, UK

Commercial bus


Historical archives, newspapers One sold, destroyed in 1917 Original vehicle has survived Original vehicle has survived First was destroyed, but a later plane, built and own in 1897, has survived. Historical archives, newspapers


Joseph Lenoir, Luxembourg Experimental ICE car

Ethanol, turpentine


Sylvester Roper, USA

Experimental motorcycle



Louis Perreaux, France

Experimental motorcycle



Clément Ader, France

Experimental airplane



Gustave Whitehead, USA

Experimental ICE airplane Acetylene

A. Lampinen

entrepreneurs ( Table 3). Instead of singling out one individual ( Table 2 ), many of them deserve credits and have earned their places in educational curriculum. Students need to be provided with chron- ological knowledge of the past, because otherwise they are ill-equipped to deal with future developments. A lot is known, but much remains unknown of these historical development paths. However, all of them have shared origins as RES-T technologies and RES-T technologies have played signicant role along their evolutionary paths. Explicit description of the problem is necessary to learn from the errors and remember them, as otherwise they may reappear. This is analogous to aircraft accident investigations, where reasons for crashes are rst uncovered and then utilized for administrative and educational directives. It is necessary for RES-T education curriculum to include historical description on how crude oil took over fuel markets of the most common vehicle types in the early 20th century. It has become rather well known that electric and steam cars competed very well in the market with gasoline cars at the turn of the 20th century and that po- litical e orts contributed to yielding their market to gasoline cars ( Kirsch, 2000 ). However, this lesson has educational weaknesses as gasoline cars had reached signi cant technical and economic ad- vantages in the 1910s over electric and steam cars. More revealing lesson is given by renewable internal combustion engine fuels, since they had both technical and economic advantages over gasoline. The story of ethanol gives the best clarity in this issue. Ethanol was not the rst fuel in cars, motorcycles or airplanes (although it was the rst spacecraft fuel), but it preceded gasoline in all these vehicle types ( Table 3 ), and it is still utilized in all of them. It had substantial eco- nomic advantage and superior technical properties at the time gasoline was introduced in the market. For example, Henry Ford utilized ethanol in his rst experimental car, Ford Quadricycle, and also in the rst mass-produced car, Ford Model T. However, successful political and industrial e orts managed to raise gasoline into dominating market position ( Kovarik, 1998 ). Essential for understanding the victor s history problem is that the loss to gasoline meant that ethanol was almost completely removed from automotive business histories, even those of the Ford Motor Company. This fate is shared by other renewable fuels, RES-E mobility and all other RES-T technologies, even though large amount of these technologies provided then and still possess today technical superiority over crude oil based mobility. One educationally illuminating example is car racing. Gasoline (octane number 95 102) has disappeared from racing series that allow high performance fuels, such as methanol (oc- tane number 107), ethanol (octane number 108) and biogas (octane number 140). Although professional high performance drivers do not choose gasoline unless rules force to do so (information base), layman drivers believe that gasoline is a high performance fuel (misinformation base). The emergence of gasoline cars into dominating market position and maintaining that position has been used as one example of tech- nological lock-in, where economy is locked-in to inferior technology path ( Arthur, 1989 ).

4. Discussion

Alerting the United Nations in the 1960s of the impending climate crises was not done lightly by the physicists. This was analogous to alerting re brigade of a house re. It was known that re was burning, human contribution for igniting it was signi cant, it had potential for complete annihilation, and it could not burn out by itself before total destruction. It was also known how to extinguish it. There was no need for further scienti c or technical evolution before action. However, in this case the re brigade has focused its e orts on studying the prop- erties of the ame, estimating its possible paths of progress and de- veloping new and alternative methods for extinguishing it in case some

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day putting out the ame will actually be required by the management. Just like in the case of the ozone layer crises, technical solution to the climate change crises has been known as long as the scienti c community has been aware of the problem. In both cases political de- cision making processes have su ered from distorted information in- puts. The ozone layer crisis was overcome in part by successful edu-

cational interventions. Overcoming the climate change crisis is possible

if educational interventions enhance accurate information and reject

distorted inputs into decision processes in all levels from households to organizations, from local to national and international administrations.

As the renewable energy transition has proceeded especially slowly in the transportation sector, main emphasis needs to be assigned to RES-T education. The CRM curriculum was adopted by the air transportation autho- rities after large amount of functional airplanes had crashed unin- tentionally by pilot control. As there is only one Earth, piloting it through the climate crises requires adopting corresponding educational curriculum before the rst and the only unintentional crash under pilot control takes place.

5. Summary and conclusion

This paper begins with an attempt to create a taxonomical tool for describing complexities of diverse ows of inputs into climate change mitigation related decision making processes. These challenging con- ditions are faced by decision makers at all levels, from individuals to

multinational organizations. This tool is applied to illuminate the most

di cult sector of climate change mitigation: renewable energy transi-

tion in transportation. Two examples are included. The rst case has an appetizer function and is covered very brie y. Abuse of energy e - ciency to support crude oil dependency is a serious obstacle, but not well known. The inherent counter-intuitive nature of this problem may create interest in the challenge at hand. The second case, victor s his- tory bias, is the main topic of this paper. This problem of misplaced innovation credits and dubious narratives on history of technology falls into domain of educational curriculum development. A description is given on the bias problem followed by suggestions on dealing with it.


This research did not

receive any

speci c




agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-pro t sectors.


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