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UK bioenergy innovation priorities: Making expectations credible in state-industry arenas

Levidow, L   Borda-Rodriguez, A   Papaioannou, T

Technological Forecasting and Social Change   87 191–204

DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2013.12.011

September 2014   (First published online February 2014)

The UK government has promoted bioenergy for several policy aims. Future expectations for bioenergy innovation encompass various pathways and their potential benefits. Some pathways have been relatively favoured by specific state-industry arrangements, which serve as ‘arenas of expectations’. Through these arrangements, some expectations have been made more credible, thus justifying and directing resource allocation. Conversely, to incentivise private-sector investment, government has sought credibility for its commitment to bioenergy innovation. These dual efforts illustrate the reciprocal character of promise-requirement cycles, whereby promises are turned into requirements for state sponsors as well as for innovators.

Collective expectations have been shaped by close exchanges between state bodies, industry and experts. As promoters build collective expectations, their credibility has been linked with UK economic and environmental aims. When encountering technical difficulties or delays in earlier expectations, pathways and their benefits have been broadened, especially through new arenas—as grounds to allocate considerable state investment. Thus the concept ‘arenas of expectations’ helps to explain how some pathways gain favour as innovation priorities.