Does wind power grow faster in Germany or the UK?

In 2001-2014, wind power in the UK followed exactly the same trajectory as wind power in Germany in 1994-2007. Both paths are accurately predicted by the technology diffusion theory and do not show differences that would require additional socio-political explanations. What does require explanation is why the exponential growth of wind power was triggered in Germany and not in the UK in the early- or mid-1990s.

Read More

Comparing energy transitions in Germany and Japan

A new paper contributes to understanding national variations in using low-carbon electricity sources by comparing the evolution of nuclear, wind and solar power in Germany and Japan. We explain why in the 1970sā€“1980s, the energy paths of the two countries were remarkably similar, but since the 1990s Germany has become a leader in renewables while phasing out nuclear energy, whereas Japan has deployed less renewables while becoming a leader in nuclear power.  

Read More

Renewables targeted before Fukushima

In a recent letter to Nature we argue that Japan had become a world's leader in solar energy long before Fukushima. This is both good and bad news for low-carbon energy transitions. On the one hand, there is no need to wait for a nuclear disaster to develop renewable electricity. On the other hand, solar and wind energy will not magically emerge after an earthquake and a tsunami strike a nuclear power plant.

Read More

The engine or a hood ornament? National identity and nuclear power in France

Historian Gabrielle Hecht analyses the development of nuclear power in France as a project of restoring  "the radiance of France", its past glory, through novel technology. She traces a tension between a 'nationalist' and a 'nationalised' ideas of nuclear power and shows how the latter decisively wins at the first sight of the oil crisis. This historical analysis contains important lessons for contemporary energy transitions.

Read More

On the deep state hypothesis

We're very grateful to Jessica Jewell for taking time and effort to comment on our earlier blog on UK nuclear policy. Commentators on all sides are having trouble explaining the intensity of UK government attachments to civil nuclear power. Despite high-level pronouncements, official UK and wider policy data that we cite show economic and broader performance of alternative low carbon options to be manifestly superior to nuclear power.

Read More

Is the 'nuclear lobby' or geography to blame for slow progress of wind power in Japan?

Japan lags behind many countries in deploying wind power. It is easy to explain with reference to the 'nuclear lobby' discouraging strong pro-wind policies and incompetent or corrupt bureaucracy slowing down wind power projects. But are these explanations logical and supported by empirical evidence? We believe that the facts tell otherwise and that slow wind power deployment in Japan is better explained by socio-technical rather than political factors.

Read More

Sustainable lifestyles and political economy of energy transitions

How do the three perspectives on energy transitions view the role of lifestyle changes? The techno-economic perspective points to the quantitative importance of lifestyle changes but is agnostic about their driving forces. The techno-social perspective identifies historic evidence for the key role of energy end-uses in transitions, but views the timing and direction of such changes as largely unpredictable. The political perspective highlights the importance of state intervention but is still under-theoritized with respect to modern energy challenges and technologies.

Read More

Patterns of diffusion of innovation

From catalytic conversions in cars to obligatory schooling, innovations in societies diffuse by similar patterns from core to the periphery. The speed of diffusion depends on the scope of innovation and the scale of the system and can range from years to centuries. Politics is one of many random factors behind universal S-curves of diffusion

Read More