Local niche experimentation in the energy transitions : a theoretical and empirical exploration of proximity and disadvantages

Lars Coenen, R.P.J.M. Raven, G.P.J. Verbong

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Abstract

This paper discusses how the approach of Strategic Niche Management (SNM) relates to proximity advantages in innovation processes as identified in the geography of innovation literature. The latter claims that the locations where innovation emerge and thrive are not coincidental, but that they follow certain patterns and explanatory logics. Such specific attention for explaining locations is not explicitly present in SNM, although this literature makes claims about the importance of experimentation in local settings, and local and global dynamics. Hence a confrontation of both literatures is thought to be promising. The paper draws on a theoretical discussion and a case study about aquifer thermal energy storage to conclude (1) that there is sufficient evidence for proximity dimensions in niche development; (2) that taking proximity dimensions seriously in SNM helps to unpack processes of upscaling and aggregation; (3) that literature on proximity and innovation can benefit from a more agency-based and dynamic perspective on proximity advantages; and (4) that there is a bias in proximity literature towards advantages of proximity while neglecting potential disadvantages for innovation, aggregation and upscaling. Keywords: Strategic Niche Management; Geography of innovation; Sustainability transitions; Experiments; Energy storage; The Netherlands
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalTechnology in Society
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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