STS - conferences, IST2012

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Regime Dynamics: Driving forces and barriers of the diffusion of new technologies in the European fertilizer industry & its system relevance for a future European hydrogen infrastructure
Sarah Debor

Last modified: 2012-03-19


The energy intensive fertilizer industry could become more independent from CO2 emissions and from non-renewable resources, such as natural gas, with new hydrogen production technologies. The same technologies are currently considered as a promising solution for distributing renewable energies, such as wind, in areas where the existing grid capacity is insufficient in order to transport the energy to the point of demand. The long term strategic orientation of the fertilizer sector, one of the largest hydrogen producers to date, could contribute to the development of a supply and demand infrastructure for hydrogen as a carrier of renewable energy.

Therefore the following questions shall be discussed:

  • Which are the forces and barriers of the diffusion of new technology in the European fertilizer industry?
  • What is the influence of the industry’s long term strategies on the evolvement of the renewable energy sector?

The paper gives insights into interrelated dynamics of two key incumbent industries, the fertilizer and the energy industry. The point of entry in the analysis of forces and barriers of the diffusion of new technologies in established industries to foster transition is the regime level, a “dynamically stable” configuration of dimensions involving technology, industry, culture, policy and the market {Geels 2007 #22:407}. Regime dynamics play a central role in technological change since a transition can be defined as a shift from one regime to another {Geels 2007 #22}. Furthermore, special attention is paid to long term corporate strategies against the background of the regime environment. The aim is to introduce a framework of key elements that determine the dynamics of incumbents in the regime level. This framework shall be the basis on which a typology of basic strategies can be identified.

The paper ends with a critical reflection of the value added of a theoretical analysis in which transition theory and corporate strategic approaches are combined.