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Accepted Paper:

Multi-level analysis of German and UK low-carbon electricity transitions (1990-2014)  
Frank Geels (Manchester Institute of Innovation Research) Gerhard Fuchs (University of Stuttgart) Nele Hinderer (University of Stuttgart) Florian Kern (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

Using the multi-level perspective, this paper compares low-carbon electricity transitions in Germany and the UK. In Germany renewable electricity technologies (RETs) are mainly deployed by new entrants (e.g. households, farmers). In the UK RETs are mainly deployed by incumbents (e.g. utilities).

Paper long abstract:

This paper compares the unfolding low-carbon electricity transitions in Germany and the UK from 1990 to 2014. It aims to explain why these countries deployed very different renewable electricity and other low-carbon technologies (RETs), with Germany choosing mainly small-scale options (solar-PV, biogas, small onshore wind farms) and the UK choosing mainly large-scale options (biomass conversion, landfill gas, large onshore and offshore wind farms, nuclear power, CCS for coal and gas). To explain this difference, the paper uses the multi-level perspective (MLP) to analyse interacting developments at three analytical levels: 1) the actors deploying RETs, including motivations and incentives, 2) the broader electricity regime, particularly the coalition of incumbent utilities and government and their commitment to existing technologies (coal, nuclear, gas), 3) the socio-technical landscape, addressing both relatively static deep structures and exogenous changes. The comparative case study draws on data from energy statistics, academic books and articles, newspapers, White Papers and company documents. The case studies combine these heterogeneous data sources to develop synthetic, integrative interpretations of the main dynamics in both countries. In terms of the Geels and Schot (2007) typology of transition pathways, the paper concludes that the German transition mainly followed a 'technological substitution' pathway, driven by new entrants. The UK transition mainly followed the 'transformation' pathway, which was enacted by incumbent actors (utilities and policymakers) who gradually reoriented rules, knowledge and practices.

Panel T046
New Technologies, social practices and social conflict - sustainable energy transitions as a field of contention
  Session 1 Saturday 3 September, 2016, -