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From laggard to leader: Explaining offshore wind developments in the UK


  • Florian Kern

    () (SPRU, University of Sussex, UK)

  • Adrian Smith

    () (SPRU, University of Sussex, UK)

  • Chris Shaw

    () (SPRU, University of Sussex, UK)

  • Rob Raven

    () (STS, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Netherlands)

  • Bram Verhees

    () (STS, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Netherlands)


Offshore wind technology has recently undergone rapid deployment in the UK. And yet, up until recently, the UK was considered a laggard in terms of deploying renewable energy. How can this burst of offshore activity be explained? An economic analysis would seek signs for newfound competitiveness for offshore wind in energy markets. A policy analysis would highlight renewable energy policy developments and assess their contribution to economic prospects of offshore wind. However, neither perspective sheds sufficient light on the advocacy of the actors involved in the development and deployment of the technology. Without an account of technology politics it is hard to explain continuing policy support despite rising costs. By analysing the actor networks and narratives underpinning policy support for offshore wind, we explain how a fairly effective protective space was constructed through the enrolling of key political and economic interests.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian Kern & Adrian Smith & Chris Shaw & Rob Raven & Bram Verhees, 2014. "From laggard to leader: Explaining offshore wind developments in the UK," SPRU Working Paper Series 2014-02, SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:2014-02

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    Cited by:

    1. Kivimaa, Paula & Kern, Florian, 2016. "Creative destruction or mere niche support? Innovation policy mixes for sustainability transitions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 205-217.
    2. repec:eee:rensus:v:81:y:2018:i:p2:p:2672-2683 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Piirainen, Kalle A. & Tanner, Anne Nygaard & Alkærsig, Lars, 2017. "Regional foresight and dynamics of smart specialization: A typology of regional diversification patterns," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 289-300.
    4. Kern, Florian & Gaede, James & Meadowcroft, James & Watson, Jim, 2016. "The political economy of carbon capture and storage: An analysis of two demonstration projects," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 250-260.
    5. 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.
    6. Zhao, Zhen-Yu & Chang, Rui-Dong & Chen, Yu-Long, 2016. "What hinder the further development of wind power in China?—A socio-technical barrier study," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 465-476.
    7. Geels, Frank W. & Kern, Florian & Fuchs, Gerhard & Hinderer, Nele & Kungl, Gregor & Mylan, Josephine & Neukirch, Mario & Wassermann, Sandra, 2016. "The enactment of socio-technical transition pathways: A reformulated typology and a comparative multi-level analysis of the German and UK low-carbon electricity transitions (1990–2014)," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 896-913.
    8. Phil Johnstone & Andy Stirling, 2015. "Comparing Nuclear Power Trajectories inGermany And the UK: From ‘Regimes’ to ‘Democracies’ in Sociotechnical Transitions and Discontinuities," SPRU Working Paper Series 2015-18, SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School.
    9. repec:eee:rensus:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:1217-1226 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Fatimah, Yuti Ariani & Raven, Rob P.J.M. & Arora, Saurabh, 2015. "Scripts in transition: Protective spaces of Indonesian biofuel villages," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 1-13.
    11. repec:eee:enepol:v:108:y:2017:i:c:p:715-730 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Kern, Florian & Verhees, Bram & Raven, Rob & Smith, Adrian, 2015. "Empowering sustainable niches: Comparing UK and Dutch offshore wind developments," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 344-355.
    13. Danny MacKinnon & Stuart Dawley & Markus Steen & Max-Peter Menzel & Asbjørn Karlsen & Pascal Sommer & Gard Hopsdal Hansen & Håkon Endresen Normann, 2018. "Path creation, global production networks and regional development: a comparative international analysis of the offshore wind sector," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1810, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Feb 2018.
    14. repec:eee:tefoso:v:126:y:2018:i:c:p:259-270 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Smink & Joost Koch & Eva Niesten & Simona Negro & Marko Hekkert, 2015. "Institutional entrepreneurship in the emerging renewable energy field; incumbents versus new entrants," Innovation Studies Utrecht (ISU) working paper series 15-01, Utrecht University, Department of Innovation Studies, revised Jun 2015.
    16. Verhees, Bram & Raven, Rob & Kern, Florian & Smith, Adrian, 2015. "The role of policy in shielding, nurturing and enabling offshore wind in The Netherlands (1973–2013)," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 816-829.

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    UK renewable energy policy; offshore wind; technology politics;

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