SCALING UP RENEWABLE ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES - The role of resource mobilisation in the growth of technological innovation systems
Doctoral thesis, 2014
Rapid and large-scale diffusion of renewable energy technologies is needed to avoid severe climate changes that would dramatically affect the conditions for human life on Earth. To scale up these technologies involves technological development, but also the alteration of structures that are locked-in to established socio-technical systems. As the scale of this transition is enormous and the timeframe is short, policy intervention is essential to assist the industrialisation and building up of new socio-technical systems. In this thesis, the technological innovation system (TIS) framework is used to analyse the challenge of scaling up renewable energy technologies. The TIS framework is effective for capturing dynamics in emerging technologies and industries, defining mechanisms that are blocking or inducing development and suggesting where policy could intervene.
Mobilisation of resources such as human and financial capital, and of complementary assets such as transmission grids, raw materials and the space needed for construction and operation, are essential for the growth of novel energy technologies, as substantially more resources are needed when the systems expand. Understanding what is constraining resource mobilisation and how this can be overcome is therefore key for understanding how up-scaling of renewable energy technologies can be achieved. Thus, the purpose of this thesis is to increase the understanding of system up-scaling, by applying the TIS framework, with an emphasis on the role of resource mobilisation.
Empirically, the thesis concentrates on two cases of renewable energy technologies: wind power and biorefineries. It includes analyses with different geographical scopes, ranging from a small country to large countries and regions.
The theoretical contribution of the thesis is a conceptualisation of the TIS’s context that enables analyses of the resource mobilisation needed for up-scaling of renewable energy technologies. The empirical contributions include observations of what characterises a TIS in the growth phase. The empirical contributions also include findings on resource mobilisation challenges, for example the scale and quality of human capital needed for large-scale diffusion of offshore wind power in Europe, and suggestions for how these can be overcome.
To effectively address some resource mobilisation challenges, strategic action or policy intervention is required. A suggestion for policy intervention, if this is not done by industry actors, is to coordinate activities within the TIS. For actors involved in development and diffusion of the technology, one way to ease resource mobilisation challenges is to communicate their need for resources, in terms of quantity and quality, to policymakers, academia, the financial sector and incumbent industry actors. Academia and the financial sector can facilitate resource mobilisation by evaluating the need for resources for renewable energy technologies and possibly initiate targeted programmes for education and investments.
scaling up technologies
technological innovation system