On national technology policy in global energy transitions: The case of Swedish marine energy
Abstract: Mitigating climate change and achieving sustainable development requires a rapid global transition to a low-carbon energy system. Policymakers therefore promote new renewable energy technologies, while also aiming to create localized environmental and socioeconomic benefits. However, the latter may be challenging in today’s globalized economy where innovation is an increasingly international phenomenon.
The purpose of this research is to increase the understanding of how national governments can promote and benefit from the global energy transition. This thesis makes a contribution towards this objective by examining innovation in marine energy technology from a Swedish policy perspective. It takes the technological innovation systems approach as a theoretical starting-point and aims to reveal intra- and transnational innovation dynamics, derive implications for policymakers, and develop theory to account for these insights.
The thesis concludes that an informed political direction was needed to accelerate innovation in Swedish marine energy, and argues that determining the appropriate direction requires assessments of domestic market and export potentials in relation to the policy rationales that motivate public support. By focusing on tidal kite technology, the thesis demonstrates that the presence of critical knowledge and competence has so far favored developments in Sweden. However, the analysis also shows that the location of markets will become increasingly important and create a tendency for industrialization abroad. Therefore, an export-focused political direction should involve strengthened incentives for domestic development. In addition, the results emphasize that there is a need for international policy coordination to promote global innovation in marine energy.
Finally, the thesis makes a theoretical contribution by highlighting the interdependence of problems in the innovation process, suggesting conceptual developments of the technological innovation systems framework and introducing an explicit regional policy perspective to analysis of technological innovation. It also argues that policy-oriented analyses of new technologies should move towards employing spatially sensitive analytical goals and scenario-based thinking.
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