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The rise of accelerated energy innovation and its implications for sustainable innovation studies: a UK perspective

Winskel, M   Radcliffe, J

Science & Technology Studies   27 (1) 8-33

April 2014

http://www.sciencetechnologystudies.org/v27n1Winskel

‘Accelerated energy innovation’ has become a prominent aspect of energy policy-making in response to more urgent drivers for change. This paper charts the rise of accelerated energy innovation in the UK, and considers its possible implications for sustainable innovation studies and research-policy exchange. As manifest in the UK, accelerated energy innovation has a number of distinctive features: an emphasis on relatively short term dynamics (years rather than decades), a focus on cost reduction and deployment support for large scale technologies, and a central role for the private sector and public-private partnerships. We argue that because it is predominantly regime-led and continuity-based, accelerated energy innovation presents a challenge to niche-led, more disruptive theories of sustainable innovation (Transitions Studies and Technological Innovation Systems theory). We conclude that sustainable innovation studies – while maintaining its critical and reflexive stance – should more fully reflect the multiform dynamics of energy systems under urgency, across a broad spectrum of continuity-based and niche-led changes.