STS - conferences, IST2012

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Transition dynamics in a maturing industry – blocking mechanisms and new concepts in cement production
Ulrich Dewald

Last modified: 2012-03-19


Due to concerns on climate change numerous industries are faced with a growing regulative pressure to implement more sustainable modes of production. In the case of the cement industry, these efforts meet a matured sector, where process innovations and a growing usage of substitute fuels already led to a decrease in energy consumption during the past decades. The industry argues that further advancements are only expectable to a limited degree and successfully calls for an adequate consideration of its limited ability to further reduce its emissions. Anyhow, a number of potential substitutes for cement have been developed – partly for decades – but did not achieve any significance in terms of market shares. Thus the aim of this paper is twofold. First, institutional and technical settings of the established cement innovation system are delineated. It is shown, how these lead to a lock-in in the existing innovation system architecture. Secondly, alternative material binder concepts are analyzed: Why did they fail or in how far do they have the potential to initiate a transition process in the cement industry? Thus, the paper introduces a case study from the building material sector and thus broadens the empirical focus within the discourse on transition dynamics und sustainable innovations.