The Politics of Low Carbon Innovation: Towards a Theory of Niche Protection (Oct 2010 - Sept 2013)

Recent studies emphasise sustainable innovation processes developing within protective niches. Experimentation in these spaces accumulates experience and improvements, which carries technologies from demonstration and into commercial use. This collaborative project with the Eindhoven Technical University analyses the politics of providing ‘protective space’ for three low carbon innovations in the UK and Netherlands: photovoltaic cells, offshore wind, and carbon capture and storage.

We study the strategies followed by advocates of these technologies for attracting public support, and how this political competition affects the innovation process. We analyse the arguments advanced by advocates of each technology, the audiences to whom these arguments are made, and how they are re-presented to different interests.

The networks of actors contributing to the development of protective space will be explored; and how their activities generate different forms of protection, e.g. economic subsidies, public investments, institutional support, valued knowledge, political backing, attaining positive symbolic significance. We will study these protections influence the development of our case study low carbon niches.

Relevant outputs:

Smith, A., Voβ, J.P. and J. Grin (2010) Innovation studies and sustainability transitions: the allure of the multi-level perspective, and its challenges Research Policy 39: 435-448.

Smith, A. And F. Kern (2009) The transitions storyline in Dutch environmental policy Environmental Politics, 18, 1: 78-98.

Raven, R.P.J.M., Van den Bosch, S. and R. Weterings (2010) Transitions and strategic niche management: towards a competence kit for practitioners International Journal of Technology Management 51, 1: 57-74.

Contact: Dr Adrian Smith, SPRU, University of Sussex; a.g.smith@sussex.ac.uk

 

T: 01273 9877065

Duration: October 2010 until September 2013

Funder: ESRC-NWO

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