STS - conferences, IST2012

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Dynamics of sustainable energy transitions in developing countries: a conceptual framework and two case studies
Linda Kamp, Wim Ravesteijn, Otto Kroesen

Last modified: 2012-04-26


Development and implementation of sustainable energy technologies in developing countries is necessary in view of worldwide environmental, developmental and poverty problems - but difficult. Local R&D, if present, is rarely connected to local businesses; and in general, network building is laborious. Furthermore, problems related to maintenance, repair and ownership frustrate implementation of sustainable energy technologies. Lack of technology policies and regulatory frameworks constitute obstacles for transitions in the longer term. What are higher level dynamics and bottlenecks that explain these issues? How can barriers be overcome and self-sustained trajectories be started and supported? These questions form the starting point and subject of this paper.

Taking a higher-level systems view, it proposes a conceptual framework for better understanding the dynamics of sustainable energy transitions in developing countries. This framework is based upon the Multilevel Perspective, Sectoral Innovation Systems approach, the Technological Innovation Systems approach, and insights from Appropriate Technology and Intercultural Management. Such a systemic framework for understanding sustainable energy transitions in developing countries is so far lacking in science. The framework deals explicitly with the local institutional context, local capacities and cultural values. It will be explained and supported by a number of examples from practice. Furthermore, in the paper the framework will be applied to two case studies: the development and implementation of small wind turbines in Kenya and the development and implementation of PV in Nigeria. The paper will identify dynamics, opportunities and barriers within these innovation systems and formulate stakeholder strategies to overcome the barriers identified.