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Transforming the energy system - the evolution of the German technological system for solar cells

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Abstract

To improve our understanding of processes involved in the formation and growth of new technological systems in the energy sector and to identify the associated key challenges for policy makers managing the transformation process, we examine the development of the German technological system for solar cells over the past twenty-five years. We use a 'technological system' approach in which we will trace the evolution of actors, networks and institutions that have a bearing on the generation and diffusion of solar cells. An initial preparatory stage lasted until about 1989 and was mainly characterised by knowledge build up induced by a Federal RDD programme. This was followed by a second stage characterised by political struggle over the regulatory framework and subsequently the beginning of a virtuous circle for solar cells. In the concluding discussion, we emphasise four key features of the evolution of the technological system: (1) the role of a coalition of system builders which successfully influenced the regulatory framework so that markets could be formed: (2) the considerable length of the learning period and the large number of actors which need to learn; (3) the importance of policies which form early markets (not only early niche markets, but beyond those) as only markets may induce firms to enter and learn, and (4) the need to run market formation policies simultaneous to policies which maintain technological variety.

Suggested Citation

  • Staffan Jacobsson & Björn A. Andersson & Lennart Bångens, 2002. "Transforming the energy system - the evolution of the German technological system for solar cells," SPRU Working Paper Series 84, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  • Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:84
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    File URL: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Units/spru/publications/imprint/sewps/sewp84/sewp84.pdf
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    1. Unruh, Gregory C., 2000. "Understanding carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 817-830, October.
    2. Walker, William, 2000. "Entrapment in large technology systems: institutional commitment and power relations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(7-8), pages 833-846, August.
    3. Jacobsson, Staffan & Johnson, Anna, 2000. "The diffusion of renewable energy technology: an analytical framework and key issues for research," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 625-640, July.
    4. Young, Allyn A., 1928. "Increasing Returns and Economic Progress," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 38, pages 527-542.
    5. Kazmerski, Lawrence L., 1997. "Photovoltaics: A review of cell and module technologies," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 1(1-2), pages 71-170, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Foxon, T. J. & Gross, R. & Chase, A. & Howes, J. & Arnall, A. & Anderson, D., 2005. "UK innovation systems for new and renewable energy technologies: drivers, barriers and systems failures," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(16), pages 2123-2137, November.
    2. repec:eee:tefoso:v:129:y:2018:i:c:p:76-87 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. van Alphen, Klaas & van Ruijven, Jochem & Kasa, Sjur & Hekkert, Marko & Turkenburg, Wim, 2009. "The performance of the Norwegian carbon dioxide, capture and storage innovation system," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 43-55, January.
    4. Jacobsson, Staffan & Lauber, Volkmar, 2006. "The politics and policy of energy system transformation--explaining the German diffusion of renewable energy technology," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 256-276, February.
    5. Huang, Y.H. & Wu, J.H., 2007. "Technological system and renewable energy policy: A case study of solar photovoltaic in Taiwan," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 345-356, February.
    6. Fuchs, Gerhard & Wassermann, Sandra, 2012. "Organising a market: Photovoltaics in Germany," Research Contributions to Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies, SOI Discussion Papers 2012-01, University of Stuttgart, Institute for Social Sciences, Department of Organizational Sociology and Innovation Studies.
    7. van Alphen, Klaas & Hekkert, Marko P. & van Sark, Wilfried G.J.H.M., 2008. "Renewable energy technologies in the Maldives--Realizing the potential," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 162-180, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    new technology; growth and formation; solar cells; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources

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