The enactment of socio-technical transition pathways: a reformulated typology and a comparative multi-level analysis of theGerman and UK low-carbon electricity transitions (1990–2014)
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-09, 00:19 authored by Frank W Geels, Florian Kern, Gerhard Fuchs, Nele Hinderer, Gregor Kungl, Josephine Mylan, Mario Neukirch, Sandra Wassermann
tThis paper aims to make two contributions to the sustainability transitions literature, in particular theGeels and Schot (2007. Res. Policy 36(3), 399) transition pathways typology. First, it reformulates anddifferentiates the typology through the lens of endogenous enactment, identifying the main patternsfor actors, formal institutions, and technologies. Second, it suggests that transitions may shift betweenpathways, depending on struggles over technology deployment and institutions. Both contributions aredemonstrated with a comparative analysis of unfolding low-carbon electricity transitions in Germanyand the UK between 1990–2014. The analysis shows that Germany is on a substitution pathway, enactedby new entrants deploying small-scale renewable electricity technologies (RETs), while the UK is on atransformation pathway, enacted by incumbent actors deploying large-scale RETs. Further analysis showsthat the German transition has recently shifted from a ‘stretch-and-transform’ substitution pathway to a‘fit-and-conform’ pathway, because of a fightback from utilities and altered institutions. It also shows thatthe UK transition moved from moderate to substantial incumbent reorientation, as government policiesbecame stronger. Recent policy changes, however, substantially downscaled UK renewables support,which is likely to shift the transition back to weaker reorientation.
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