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