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Learning pathways for energy supply technologies: Bridging between innovation studies and learning rates

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-114
Number of pages19
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Early online date5 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


Supporting innovation and learning for different emerging low carbon energy supply technology fields is a key issue for policymakers, investors and researchers. A range of contrasting analytical approaches are used, often with little cross-over between them. Energy systems modelling using learning rates provides abstracted, quantitative and output oriented accounts, while innovation studies research offers contextualised, qualitative and process oriented accounts. Drawing on research evidence and expert consultation on learning for several different emerging energy supply technologies, this paper introduces a ‘learning pathways’ matrix to help bridge between the rich contextualisation of innovation studies and the systematic comparability of learning rates. The learning pathways matrix characterises technology fields by their relative orientation to radical or incremental innovation, and to concentrated or distributed organisation. A number of archetypal learning pathways are outlined to help learning rates analyses draw on innovation studies research, and so better acknowledge the different niche origins and learning dynamics of energy supply technologies. Finally, future research issues are outlined.

    Research areas

  • innovation, learning, energy, electricity, technology

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