Technological shape and size: A disaggregated perspective on sectoral innovation systems in renewable electrification pathways

Ulrich Elmer Hansen, Cecilia Gregersen*, Rasmus Lema, Dominic Samoita, Faith Wandera

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The sectoral innovation system perspective has been developed as an analytical framework to analyse and understand innovation dynamics within and across various sectors. Most of the research conducted on sectoral innovation systems has focused on an aggregate-level analysis of entire sectors. This paper argues that a disaggregated (sub-sectoral) focus is more suited to policy-oriented work on the development and diffusion of renewable energy, particularly in countries with rapidly developing energy systems and open technology choices. It focuses on size, distinguishing between small-scale (mini-grids) and large-scale (grid-connected) deployment paths in renewable energy. We explore how the development and diffusion of solar PV and wind technology evolve in these sub-sectoral systems. We find that innovation and diffusion dynamics differ more between small and large than between wind and solar. This has important analytical implications because the disaggregated perspective allows us to identify trajectories that cut across conventionally defined core technologies. This is important for ongoing discussions of electrification pathways in developing countries. We conclude the paper by distilling the implications of these findings in terms of the requirements and incentive mechanisms that shape different pathways.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
    Volume42
    Pages (from-to)13-22
    ISSN2214-6296
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Keywords

    • Diffusion
    • Electrification pathways
    • Kenya
    • Mini-grids
    • Renewable energy
    • Sectoral innovation systems
    • Solar PV
    • Wind energy

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