UA-68571407-1

The transition of energy intensive processing industries towards deep decarbonization: characteristics and implications for future research

Academic PublicationsEnglish
J.H. Wesseling, S. Lechtenböhmer, M. Åhman, L.J. Nilsson, E. Worrell and L. Coenen
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication year: 2017

Energy-intensive processing industries (EPIs) produce iron and steel, aluminum, chemicals, cement, glass, and paper and pulp and are responsible for a large share of global greenhouse gas emissions. To meet 2050 emission targets, an accelerated transition towards deep decarbonization is required in these industries. Insights from sociotechnical and innovation systems perspectives are needed to better understand how to steer and facilitate this transition process. The transitions literature has so far, however, not featured EPIs. This paper positions EPIs within the transitions literature by characterizing their sociotechnical and innovation systems in terms of industry structure, innovation strategies, networks, markets and governmental interventions. We subsequently explore how these characteristics may influence the transition to deep decarbonization and identify gaps in the literature from which we formulate an agenda for further transitions research on EPIs and consider policy implications. Furthering this research field would not only enrich discussions on policy for achieving deep decarbonization, but would also develop transitions theory since the distinctive EPI characteristics are likely to yield new patterns in transition dynamics.

Public procurement for innovation to help meet societal challenges: a review and case study

Academic PublicationsEnglish
J.H. Wesseling, C.E. Edquist
Science and Public Policy
Publication year: 2017

Public Procurement for Innovation (PPI) is a powerful, underutilized demand-side innovation policy instrument. How this instrument can contribute to meeting societal challenges, which require goal-oriented transformation of socio-technical systems, remains unclear and is explored in this paper. This paper draws on the transitions and PPI literature to propose transformative processes to which PPI can contribute and identifies factors that determine the effectiveness of PPI in meeting societal challenges. The propositions are explored with a case study on the procurement of radically new flood barrier technology, using event history mapping analysis. The paper concludes that, under certain conditions, PPI can contribute to the transformative processes of 1) the articulation of societal demands to direct challenge-driven transformation; 2) the development and production, 3) selection and 4) the diffusion and use of new technologies to meet these societal demands. The paper ends with policy recommendations on how PPI can help meet societal challenges.

Lock-in of mature innovation systems: the transformation toward clean concrete in the Netherlands

Academic PublicationsEnglish
J.H. Wesseling and A. van der Vooren
Journal of Cleaner Production
Publication year: 2016

Energy-intensive processing industries like the concrete industry form the base of the economy and account for a large part of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sectoral transformation to cleaner basic materials is therefore crucial, and institutional pressure to do so is increasing. However, socio-technical studies have not sufficiently addressed these sectors. This paper therefore sets out to analyze the systemic problems that inhibit the transformation of the mature innovation system of the concrete sector toward the development and diffusion of clean concrete innovations, for the case of the Netherlands. A structural-functional approach has been frequently applied to identify such systemic problems, but has been limited to emerging technological innovation systems. Consequently, the approach tends to overlook the systemic lock-in that arises from closed cycles of interdependent systemic problems and vested interests that characterize mature innovation systems and that hamper system transformation. This paper analyzes these characteristics to extend the application of the structural-functional approach to the transformation of mature innovation systems. Interviews with 28 stakeholders were conducted and triangulated with reports, websites and other documents. A list of systemic problems was identified that originate within actors, institutions, networks, technology and infrastructure and that impaired the performance of all system functions except knowledge development. Systemic problems are indeed found to be sustained through systemic lock-in, i.e. closed cycles of interdependent systemic problems. Through strategic, often collective action, established firms with vested interests were able to reinforce these interdependent systemic problems to inhibit clean concrete innovation. The study concludes that systemic lock-in inhibits the sustainability transformation of the mature innovation system of concrete in the Netherlands and confirms that the application of the structural-functional approach can be extended from emerging to mature innovation systems. Overcoming systemic lock-in requires a series of well coordinated policy measures that should be implemented in a specific order, to prevent reverting back to the lock-in around the original system configuration.

Lock-in of mature innovation systems, The transformation toward clean concrete in the Netherlands

Academic PublicationsEnglish
Wesseling, J.H., van der Vooren, A.
Working Paper Series: Paper in Innovation Studies, no.2016/17
Publication year: 2016

Energy-intensive processing industries like the concrete industry form the base of the economy and account for a large part of greenhouse gas emissions. Sectoral transformation to cleaner basic materials is therefore crucial, and institutional pressure to do so is increasing. These sectors have nevertheless been largely omitted by socio-technical studies. This paper therefore sets out to analyze the systemic problems that inhibit the transformation of the mature innovation system of the concrete sector toward the development, diffusion and adoption of clean concrete innovations, for the case of the Netherlands. A coupled structural-functional approach has been frequently applied to identify such systemic problems, but has been limited to emerging technological innovation systems. Consequently, the approach tends to overlook the systemic lock-in that arises from interdependent systemic problems and vested interests that characterize mature innovation systems. This paper analyzes these characteristics to extend the application of the structural-functional approach to the transformation of mature innovation systems. Interviews with 28 stakeholders were conducted and triangulated with reports, websites and other documents. A list of systemic problems was identified that originate within actors, institutions, networks, technology and infrastructure and that impaired the performance of all system functions except knowledge development. Systemic problems are indeed found to be strongly interdependent, leading to systemic lock-in. Through strategic, often collective action, established firms with vested interests were able to reinforce these systemic problems to inhibit clean concrete innovation. The study concludes that systemic lock-in inhibits the sustainability transformation of the mature innovation system of concrete in the Netherlands and confirms that the application of the structural-functional approach can be extended from emerging to mature innovation systems.

Explaining variance in national electric vehicle policies

Academic PublicationsEnglish
J.H. Wesseling
Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Publication year: 2016

Transition studies’ understanding of differences in public policy is limited due to its ten-dency to focus on single-country cases. This paper assesses differences in plug-in electricvehicle (PEV) policies, comprising RD&D subsidies, infrastructure investments and salesincentives, across 13 countries over the period 2008–2014. I explore three conditionsthat may influence these policy expenditures. Content and statistical analyses show thatnational PEV policies differed drastically across countries in intensity and orientation, rang-ing from a focus on supply-side innovation policy to a focus on demand-side environmentalpolicy. The government’s role across national political economies only explain differencesin PEV infrastructure investments, while the government’s PEV diffusion targets for 2020surprisingly do not correlate with any PEV policy. Economic interest in the car industryshows and explains why car countries focus their policy on technology development, andnon-car countries on technology diffusion. These findings enhance the understanding ofnational policies in transitions.

Public procurement for innovation: lessons from the procurement of a navigable storm surge barrier

Academic PublicationsEnglish
Wesseling, J.H. & Edquist, C.
Working Paper Series: Paper in Innovation Studies, no. 2016/5
Publication year: 2016

Public Procurement for Innovation (PPI) is a powerful, underutilized demand-side innovation
policy instrument that can be used to stimulate innovation, meet sectoral policy goals and
mitigate grand challenges. Further research is required to analyze how PPI contributes to
these goals and how it operates in practice; more case studies are needed to achieve this.
We analyze a case of direct developmental PPI, the procurement of a navigable storm surge
barrier in the Netherlands. Data from policy documents, reports and interviews were used in
an event history analysis which serves to capture dynamic patterns of innovation activities.
We interpret our findings in relation to the tentative lessons on PPI available in the literature.
We also draw policy conclusions with respect to dealing with multiple policy goals and user
needs; specifying functional requirements; levels of expertise within governments; balancing
competition and cooperation; and taking risks.

Explaining differences in electric vehicle policies across countries: innovation vs. environmental policy rationale

Academic PublicationsEnglish
Joeri H. Wesseling
Working Paper Series: Paper in Innovation Studies, no. 2015/42
Publication year: 2015

Transition studies’ understanding of differences in public policy is limited due to its tendency to focus on single-country cases. This paper assesses differences in plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) policies expenditures, comprising RD&D subsidies, infrastructure investments and sales incentives, across 13 countries over the period 2008-2014. I explore three conditions that may influence these policy expenditures. Content and statistical analyses show that national PEV policies differed drastically across countries in intensity and orientation, ranging from a focus on supply-side innovation policy to a focus on demand-side environmental policy. The government’s role across national political economies only explain differences in PEV infrastructure investments, while the government’s EV diffusion targets for 2020 surprisingly do not correlate with any PEV policy. Economic interest in the car industry shows and explains why car countries focus their policy on technology development, and non-car countries on technology diffusion. These findings enhance the understanding of national policies in transitions.

Exploring car manufacturers’ responses to technology-forcing regulation: the case of California’s ZEV mandate

Academic PublicationsEnglish
J.H. Wesseling, J.C.M. Farla, M.P. Hekkert
Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, in press
Publication year: 2015

The ability of firms to influence environmental regulation has largely been overlooked in transition studies. We study how car manufacturers combine and change their innovation and political influence strategies in response to a technology-forcing regulation. We apply a conceptual framework on corporate responses to public innovation policy to the case of the zero emission vehicle mandate over the period 1990–2013. We use patent and sales data to operationalize the R&D and commercialization aspects of innovation strategies, while using corporate political activities data to operationalize political influence strategies. We find that first, car manufacturers used specific combinations of innovation and political influence strategies, depending on their value maintaining or value creating nature. Second, manufacturers changed their strategies and became more value creating over time, which supported socio-technical change. Third, we refine the available strategy typology by identifying subclasses in defensive (opposition and slowdown) and proactive strategies (shaping, support and progressive).

Car manufacturers’ changing political strategies on the ZEV mandate

Academic PublicationsEnglish
J.H. Wesseling, J.C.M. Farla, D. Sperling and M.P. Hekkert
Transportation Research Part D, vol. 33, 196–209
Publication year: 2014

We ask how incumbent car manufacturers and their political coalitions changed their political strategy with respect to the Californian zero emission vehicle mandate over the period 2000–2013. Building on the Corporate Political Activities literature we conceptualize firms’ political strategies and their underlying tactics and actions. Our longitudinal case study builds on a dataset comprising governmental reports, documents, and public hearing transcripts, letters from industry, and complementary interviews with stakeholders. We find that car manufacturers became less defensive over time and more proactive and compliant in their political strategies towards the zero emission vehicle mandate. Car manufacturers’ coalitions on the other hand, remain relatively defensive in their political actions as they continue to do the manufacturers’ ‘‘dirty work’’. We provide insights in the Corporate Political Activities used to influence policymakers. To deal with industry opposition to policy interventions, our research suggests that policy makers might focus their interaction with industry on individual firms instead of industry associations, craft policies that stimulate competition between firms to break apart their closed industry front, and complement technology-forcing policies with demand-pull initiatives.

Business strategies of incumbents in the market for electric vehicles: Opportunities and incentives for sustainable innovation

Academic PublicationsEnglish
J. H. Wesseling, E. M. M. I. Niesten, J. Faber and M. P. Hekkert
Business Strategy and the Environment, in press.
Publication year: 2013

This paper focuses on the relation between large car manufacturers’ incentive and opportunity to innovate and their Electric Vehicle (EV) business strategies. We analyze how environmental regulation and the firm’s incentive (measured by net income) and opportunity to innovate (measured by EV asset position, determined from a combination of patent, partnership and prototype data) affect EV sales over the period 1990-2011. During the EV’s R&D period in the 1990s, large car manufacturers that were regulated by the full Zero Emission Vehicle mandate developed a significantly stronger EV asset position, but did not sell significantly more EVs than their rivals. During the EV’s commercialization period (2007-2011), large car manufacturers with both a strong incentive and a strong opportunity to innovate sold significantly more EVs. Based on these results, the paper offers a typology of business strategies, several managerial implications and recommendations for policy makers to stimulate sustainable development.

How competitive forces sustain electric vehicle development

Academic PublicationsEnglish
J.H. Wesseling, J. Faber and M.P. Hekkert
Technological Forecasting and Social Change Volume 81, January 2014, Pages 154–164
Publication year: 2014

This patent study researches the relation between competitive forces and the continuation of waves of Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) development. The competitive forces included are rivalry, dispersion referring to competition in general, and the presence of new entrants. We identify four waves of LEV development over the past 21 years, two of which were broken before becoming a commercial success, one that was continued, and the current wave of battery electric vehicle (BEV) development. Although the presence of new entrants could not be tested for all cases, our findings suggest that the combination of rivalry and dispersion positively relates to continued LEV development. We conclude that continuation of the current wave of BEV development is likely, as it is supported by increases in rivalry, dispersion and the presence of new entrants.
Keywords: electric vehicle; low emission vehicle; sustainable mobility; patent; technological competition; rivalry