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Smart grids and the transformation of the electricity sector: ICT firms as potential catalysts for sectoral change

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  • Erlinghagen, Sabine
  • Markard, Jochen

Abstract

The sustainability challenges associated with increasing demand and generation of electricity require a far-reaching transformation of the energy system. Smart grid technologies are expected to play a major role in such sectoral transformation. While a growing body of literature is concerned with the dynamics and particularities of sectoral transformation, most contributions have focused on exogenous shocks or new technological developments as drivers of change. This paper complements the existing perspectives by exploring the role of actors as catalysts for transformation. Within the field of smart grid, we study the transformative influence of ICT firms on the energy sector in Europe. More specifically, we analyze actor participation in 450 European smart grid projects between 2000 and 2011 as well as acquisitions in the field. We find that incumbent firms from the ICT sector have gained influence and drive transformation through the creation of variety, in terms of technology, business models and value chains. As a strategic reaction, electricity sector incumbents have recently acquired many start-ups specialized in ICT technology and thus expanded their competence base. We conclude that entrants from another sector can be important catalysts for sectoral transformation and should be analyzed more systematically in transition studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Erlinghagen, Sabine & Markard, Jochen, 2012. "Smart grids and the transformation of the electricity sector: ICT firms as potential catalysts for sectoral change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 895-906.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:51:y:2012:i:c:p:895-906
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2012.09.045
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    7. Kristin Reichardt & Karoline S. Rogge & Simona Negro & Marko Hekkert, 2015. "Analyzing interdependencies between policy mixes and technological innovation systems: the case of offshore wind in Germany," Innovation Studies Utrecht (ISU) working paper series 15-04, Utrecht University, Department of Innovation Studies, revised Aug 2015.
    8. Andersen, Allan Dahl & Markard, Jochen, 2020. "Multi-technology interaction in socio-technical transitions: How recent dynamics in HVDC technology can inform transition theories," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
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    10. Marletto, Gerardo, 2014. "Car and the city: Socio-technical transition pathways to 2030," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 164-178.
    11. Jens Hanson, 2017. "Established industries as foundations for emerging technological innovation systems: The case of solar photovoltaics in Norway," Working Papers on Innovation Studies 20170531, Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.
    12. IqtiyaniIlham, Nur & Hasanuzzaman, M. & Hosenuzzaman, M., 2017. "European smart grid prospects, policies, and challenges," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 776-790.
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    14. Aurelie Tricoire, 2015. "Uncertainty, vision, and the vitality of the emerging smart grid," Post-Print hal-02351994, HAL.
    15. Niesten, Eva & Alkemade, Floortje, 2016. "How is value created and captured in smart grids? A review of the literature and an analysis of pilot projects," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 629-638.
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    19. G. Marletto, 2013. "Car and the city: Socio-technical pathways to 2030," Working Paper CRENoS 201306, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    20. Dada, Joseph O., 2014. "Towards understanding the benefits and challenges of Smart/Micro-Grid for electricity supply system in Nigeria," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 1003-1014.
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    23. Buchmann, Marius, 2017. "Governance of data and information management in smart distribution grids: Increase efficiency by balancing coordination and competition," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 63-72.
    24. Markard, Jochen & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2016. "Analysis of complementarities: Framework and examples from the energy transition," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 63-75.

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