How local energy initiatives develop technological innovations: Growing an actor network

Esther C. van der Waal* (Corresponding Author), Henny J. van der Windt, Ellen C.J. van Oost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Local energy initiatives are of growing interest to studies of grassroots innovation for sustainability. Some of these initiatives have developed novel technological solutions to fulfil local demand for renewable energy. However, whereas the upscaling and diffusion of grassroots innovations has been extensively discussed in the literature, their emergence has received very little attention so far. We will therefore focus on how energy initiatives can develop technological innovations by bringing together local actors and creating a fit to local circumstances. Grounded in actor network theory (ANT) and structured by concepts from Callon's sociology of translation, we studied two technologically innovative projects of a Dutch energy initiative. Through document analysis and interviews, we researched how these initiatives developed their innovations by forming networks of social, material, and discursive elements. We found that the outcomes of the innovation processes are very dependent on the networking capacities of the energy initiatives, as well as how well they fit with external circumstances and opportunities. The paper concludes with five lessons for grassroots technological innovation: form links with the local, extensively scrutinize plans, create tangible proof of alignments, position the project as beneficial to as many actors as possible, and adjust the level of ambition to the strength of the actor network.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4577
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume10
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2018

Fingerprint

technical innovation
innovation
Innovation
energy
actor-network-theory
document analysis
renewable energy
actor network theory
networking
sociology
upscaling
Circuit theory
sustainability
Sustainable development
demand
interview

Keywords

  • Actor network theory
  • Community energy
  • Energy cooperatives
  • Grassroots innovation
  • Local energy initiatives
  • Sociology of translation
  • Technological configuration

Cite this

@article{4ebbc1adf2024f08a96357d157a98322,
title = "How local energy initiatives develop technological innovations: Growing an actor network",
abstract = "Local energy initiatives are of growing interest to studies of grassroots innovation for sustainability. Some of these initiatives have developed novel technological solutions to fulfil local demand for renewable energy. However, whereas the upscaling and diffusion of grassroots innovations has been extensively discussed in the literature, their emergence has received very little attention so far. We will therefore focus on how energy initiatives can develop technological innovations by bringing together local actors and creating a fit to local circumstances. Grounded in actor network theory (ANT) and structured by concepts from Callon's sociology of translation, we studied two technologically innovative projects of a Dutch energy initiative. Through document analysis and interviews, we researched how these initiatives developed their innovations by forming networks of social, material, and discursive elements. We found that the outcomes of the innovation processes are very dependent on the networking capacities of the energy initiatives, as well as how well they fit with external circumstances and opportunities. The paper concludes with five lessons for grassroots technological innovation: form links with the local, extensively scrutinize plans, create tangible proof of alignments, position the project as beneficial to as many actors as possible, and adjust the level of ambition to the strength of the actor network.",
keywords = "Actor network theory, Community energy, Energy cooperatives, Grassroots innovation, Local energy initiatives, Sociology of translation, Technological configuration",
author = "{van der Waal}, {Esther C.} and {van der Windt}, {Henny J.} and {van Oost}, {Ellen C.J.}",
year = "2018",
month = "12",
day = "4",
doi = "10.3390/su10124577",
language = "English",
volume = "10",
journal = "Sustainability (Switzerland)",
issn = "2071-1050",
publisher = "Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute",
number = "12",

}

How local energy initiatives develop technological innovations : Growing an actor network. / van der Waal, Esther C. (Corresponding Author); van der Windt, Henny J.; van Oost, Ellen C.J.

In: Sustainability (Switzerland), Vol. 10, No. 12, 4577, 04.12.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - How local energy initiatives develop technological innovations

T2 - Growing an actor network

AU - van der Waal, Esther C.

AU - van der Windt, Henny J.

AU - van Oost, Ellen C.J.

PY - 2018/12/4

Y1 - 2018/12/4

N2 - Local energy initiatives are of growing interest to studies of grassroots innovation for sustainability. Some of these initiatives have developed novel technological solutions to fulfil local demand for renewable energy. However, whereas the upscaling and diffusion of grassroots innovations has been extensively discussed in the literature, their emergence has received very little attention so far. We will therefore focus on how energy initiatives can develop technological innovations by bringing together local actors and creating a fit to local circumstances. Grounded in actor network theory (ANT) and structured by concepts from Callon's sociology of translation, we studied two technologically innovative projects of a Dutch energy initiative. Through document analysis and interviews, we researched how these initiatives developed their innovations by forming networks of social, material, and discursive elements. We found that the outcomes of the innovation processes are very dependent on the networking capacities of the energy initiatives, as well as how well they fit with external circumstances and opportunities. The paper concludes with five lessons for grassroots technological innovation: form links with the local, extensively scrutinize plans, create tangible proof of alignments, position the project as beneficial to as many actors as possible, and adjust the level of ambition to the strength of the actor network.

AB - Local energy initiatives are of growing interest to studies of grassroots innovation for sustainability. Some of these initiatives have developed novel technological solutions to fulfil local demand for renewable energy. However, whereas the upscaling and diffusion of grassroots innovations has been extensively discussed in the literature, their emergence has received very little attention so far. We will therefore focus on how energy initiatives can develop technological innovations by bringing together local actors and creating a fit to local circumstances. Grounded in actor network theory (ANT) and structured by concepts from Callon's sociology of translation, we studied two technologically innovative projects of a Dutch energy initiative. Through document analysis and interviews, we researched how these initiatives developed their innovations by forming networks of social, material, and discursive elements. We found that the outcomes of the innovation processes are very dependent on the networking capacities of the energy initiatives, as well as how well they fit with external circumstances and opportunities. The paper concludes with five lessons for grassroots technological innovation: form links with the local, extensively scrutinize plans, create tangible proof of alignments, position the project as beneficial to as many actors as possible, and adjust the level of ambition to the strength of the actor network.

KW - Actor network theory

KW - Community energy

KW - Energy cooperatives

KW - Grassroots innovation

KW - Local energy initiatives

KW - Sociology of translation

KW - Technological configuration

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85057580669&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3390/su10124577

DO - 10.3390/su10124577

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85057580669

VL - 10

JO - Sustainability (Switzerland)

JF - Sustainability (Switzerland)

SN - 2071-1050

IS - 12

M1 - 4577

ER -