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The renewable energies technology surge: A new techno-economic paradigm in the making?

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  • John A. Mathews

Abstract

Despite discussion of a .carbon lock-inÿ and techno-institutional barriers to change, energy studies have had little serious contact with neo-Schumpeterian theorizing on technological .surgesÿ or revolutions and successive waves of creative destruction, which have characterized the entire industrial era from the 1770s on. In this paper a way is offered to link the current surge in renewable energy investment to the theorizing over long (Kondratiev) waves and techno-economic paradigm shifts. The paper argues that the current renewable energy surge can be best com-prehended as a secondary surge in the fifth long K-wave, coinciding with the shift from gestation to installation of a new sixth techno-economic paradigm within the matrix of the fifth. It is argued that this emergent 6th paradigm is a continuation and fulfilment of the 5th, where IT and ICT are applied to the electric power grid, and that both are in conflict with the still-incumbent 4thparadigm based on fossil fuels and centralized power generation. The emergent 6thparadigm portends a renewable energy speculative financial boom and bubble which could burst sometime in the period 2015 to 2020, ushering in a period of sustained development of renewables and energy-efficiency services by productive rather than financial capital.

Suggested Citation

  • John A. Mathews, 2012. "The renewable energies technology surge: A new techno-economic paradigm in the making?," The Other Canon Foundation and Tallinn University of Technology Working Papers in Technology Governance and Economic Dynamics 44, TUT Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance.
  • Handle: RePEc:tth:wpaper:44
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