Beyond frontier technologies, expert knowledge and money: New parameters for innovation and energy systems change
Many people agree on the need for energy system change, and that innovation is a pivotal component in attaining these changes. For this reason, a flurry of activity exists – by scholars, policy makers and practitioners – about how to realize these changes most effectively. Emerging concepts and activities underway on the ground point to systemic changes afoot. By contrast, policy makers and their advisors often rely on outdated assumptions when espousing advice about policy, investment and markets.
Through an examination of a number of sustainable energy experiences, this paper argues that conventional ways of approaching innovation are inadequate at effectively understanding innovation systems; by doing so, we miss important sources of innovation. This is important because to realize these transitions further alignment between these scholars, policy makers and practitioners is required. We must look beyond frontier technologies, experts and money by taking a broad view of innovation that also attempts to capture less orthodox innovation sources. To do so we must apply a comprehensive approach to energy system change; one that acknowledges that aspects such as culture, social, environmental, and political issues can play as important roles in understanding change as economic and technical aspects.